Cutting through the bullshit.

Thursday 22 February 2007

Cynicism unlimited

Sol Salbe sent around the editorial from tomorrow’s Forward where we learn of ‘the recent discovery that the family of Anne Frank had unsuccessfully attempted to obtain an American visa before being captured by the Nazis’. In response, NY Democratic Rep. Steve Israel proposes that Anne Frank be awarded posthumous honourary American citizenship!

“The best way we can honor Anne Frank in death is to give her what her father sought for her in life,” said Israel, a New York Democrat, in a statement last week. “The news that Anne Frank’s family sought to flee to the United States makes it clearer than ever that we should bestow honorary citizenship upon Anne Frank.”

I was well aware that the US regards US nationality as the most precious thing anyone can possess. But it never occurred to me that the dead could make any practical use of it.

To their credit, the Forward recommends a more appropriate tribute to Anne Frank’s memory and in atonement for the wrong done her, the US should resettle some of the estimated 3.8 million Iraqis its war has driven from their homes.

What has the administration done to address the crisis? From 2003 until last month, the United States admitted 466 Iraqi refugees (this is not a misprint — there are no zeros missing from the end of that figure). America currently spends about $8 billion a month on the war, but the administration reportedly entered 2007 planning to spend just $60 million this fiscal year to provide shelter and protection for displaced Iraqis, and $20 million to help resettle refugees here and in other countries.

The administration has taken a few key steps in recent weeks, which suggests that it is finally ready to set a new, morally responsible course on the issue. Earlier this month, the State Department announced the creation of a task force to coordinate American efforts to resettle and assist Iraqi refugees. Then, last week, administration officials unveiled a plan to admit about 7,000 of the refugees into this country by the end of the year.

As Senator Arlen Specter recently pointed out during a hearing on Capitol Hill, last year 20,000 of the immigration slots reserved for refugees went unused. The issue, according the State Department official on the other end of Specter’s grilling, was a matter of dollars and cents: Financing for the slots was not available.

The Forward reckons the 7000 is ‘progress’ in comparison to their previous ‘shameful record’. Apparently, these refugees ‘have no future back in their native country because of their support for America’s reconstruction effort’. Well, I’m dubious that they could have supported ‘America’s reconstruction effort’, since so far there has only been an American destruction effort. But certainly there is no excuse for asking Syria and Jordan to take up the slack. The US should definitely fly all 4 million over and educate, house, and employ the lot.

What’s missing from the Forward’s editorial is the obvious first step that the US and nobody else can take to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqis.

Wednesday 21 February 2007

We don't need no stinkin' slide show!

Last Wednesday US president Bush said

that he was certain that factions within the Iranian government had supplied Shiite militants in Iraq with deadly roadside bombs that had killed American troops. But he said he did not know whether Iran's highest officials had directed the attacks.

…Bush dismissed as "preposterous" the contention by some skeptics that the United States was drawing unwarranted conclusions about Iran's role…

"I can say with certainty that the Quds Force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated I.E.D.'s that have harmed our troops," Bush said…

As Bush discussed Iran in Washington, the chief American military spokesman in Baghdad provided a more detailed, on-the-record account of how the administration believed the weapons, particularly lethal explosive devices known as explosively formed penetrators, or E.F.P.'s, got to Iraq. The spokesman, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV,…said American assertions about a link between the weapons and the force were based on information obtained from people, including Iranians, detained in Iraq in the past 60 days.

Doubtless Bush is just as certain about the EFPs as he was about the WMDs. But Andrew Cockburn shows that explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) are not Iranian.

…in November, U.S. troops raiding a Baghdad machine shop came across a pile of copper disks, 5 inches in diameter, stamped out as part of what was clearly an ongoing order. This ominous discovery, unreported until now, makes it clear that Iraqi insurgents have no need to rely on Iran as the source of EFPs.

The truth is that EFPs are simple to make for anyone who knows how to do it. Far from a sophisticated assembly operation that might require state supervision, all that is required is one of those disks, some high-powered explosive (which is easy to procure in Iraq) and a container, such as a piece of pipe. I asked a Pentagon analyst specializing in such devices how much each one would cost to make. "Twenty bucks," he answered after a brief calculation. "Thirty at most."

"You can do as much or more damage with a 5-pound EFP, which is aimed, as with a 200-pound conventional IED, where most of the energy is dissipated away from the target," the Pentagon analyst said.

So who will present the slide show at the UN this time?

Tuesday 20 February 2007

Watch your step

Jewish Voice for Peace wrote this morning encouraging me to contact my Senator to demand that they support California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act.

The bill aims to ban use, sale, or transfer of any cluster munitions unless ‘the submunitions of the cluster munitions have a 99 percent or higher functioning rate’ and ‘will not be used where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians’.

“This landmark legislation would put the US at the forefront of global efforts to eliminate weapons that have killed and maimed thousands of civilians,” said Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch. “At the moment, the US is best known as one of the most prolific users, producers, exporters and stockpilers of the weapon.”

It could well be a step in the right direction, except, ‘The President may waive the requirement under section 2(1)’ regarding the functioning rate if he ‘certifies that it is vital to protect the security of the United States’. Given what we now know about Congressional oversight of executive power, it looks more like carte blanche, particularly considering that, according to HRW, of the estimated 1 billion cluster submunitions the US currently has stockpiled, only about 30,000 would meet the stipulated criteria. No doubt it would be vital to the security of the United States to sell these at a profit, or give them to some other party with America’s best interests at heart.

JVP asserts that the bill also paves the way for clean-up operations, particularly in Lebanon, but the text of the bill only provides that

(3) not later than 30 days after such cluster munitions are used, the President submits to the appropriate congressional committees a plan, including estimated costs, for cleaning up any such cluster munitions and submunitions which fail to explode and continue to pose a hazard to civilians…

It doesn’t mention Lebanon and there doesn’t appear to be any wording that would make it retroactive to cover the million or so bomblets scattered all over southern Lebanon and taking their intended toll of UN mine clearers and Lebanese kids.

It’s funny how they name legislation. Leaving everything more or less to Presidential discretion hasn’t offered Iraqi civilians much protection, but time will tell. It starts out limp; we’ll see what form it takes if and when it passes the Senate, then it could be amended in the House, and once passed into law, there’s the inevitable process of gutting it through regulation.

Meanwhile, moves are afoot to launch ‘an international process to create a treaty banning cluster munitions that cause unacceptable humanitarian harm’. Launching a process sounds good. Just watch where you step.

Feel some obligation

A joint committee of the US Senate and the Knesset, a ‘committee headed by Senator Jon Kyl, who is close to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney’, has organised a tour for an unspecified number of US senators, hosted by Likud MK Yuval Steinitz.

"We formed the committee four years ago, when I was Chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. It is the only joint committee between the American Congress and another country," said Steinitz.

"We think that it is important that the members of the delegation feel the connection and understand Israel better. They are mostly non-Jewish and we want them to feel some obligation to the country," he added.

"The committee has had major achievements and we hope that this visit will lead to additional feats," he concluded. One of the committee's successes to date is receiving funding for a project to develop a rocket-interception system.

The two-day visit includes meetings with Opposition Chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Chief of the Mossad. Later on they will also meet Deputy President and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

But you don’t have to be a US Senator to get a free junket to Israel! If you’re 18-26 and Jewish,

All Taglit-birthright israel trips are FREE and include:

* Roundtrip airfare to Israel from gateway cities

* Departures available in May, June, July and August

* Touring, lodging, transportation, guides and most meals

* Fast-paced touring all over Israel from the Southern desert to the Northern valley

* Israeli peers (mostly soldiers) will join for part or all of each group's trip

* Applicants can pick from two dozen different Trip Organizers to find the trip that is right for them.

* There is no 'catch' or obligation other than a refundable deposit (returned after completion of the trip)

‘Birthright’, indeed! That’s one of the most annoying aspects of the program – that they market it as if diaspora Jews are the ones with a birthright to Palestine! What chutzpah!

I read somewhere that while they encourager participants to stick around in Israel beyond the ten day program, they don’t like the kids to go off to the West Bank and join in International Solidarity Movement activities and the like. I suppose that would lose you your US$250 depost?

A study carried out last year by the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University found, among other things, that 62% of those in the 2005 cohort ‘Strongly agree’ with the statement, ‘I think of Israel as a source of pride’. In comparison, only 50% of non participants strongly agreed. Since the ‘non participants’ were selected from applicants who ended up not participating in the program, and since response rates in the survey itself were quite low – 62% of participants responded to the questionnaire and only 29% of non participants – it’s pretty hard to take the results seriously. Although the authors claim somehow to have controlled for the bias inevitably introduced by the self selection inherent in low response rates, I am not convinced. It is likely that those responding were those most enthusiastic about the program. Of course it’s altogether possible that other factors played a role in self selections. For example, respondents may have been those with nothing better to do than respond to the questionnaire.

In any case, some of the results were mildly encouraging. The purpose of the program is clearly to encourage young Jews to identify more actively as such and with Israel in particular. Yet only 33% of the 2005 cohort of participants and 25% of non participants strongly agreed that ‘I think of Israel as a refuge for Jewish people’. A much higher 43% of the 2003-04 cohort participants strongly agreed. Similarly, the proportion strongly agreeing that ‘I think of Israel as a lively democracy’ in the 2002-03 cohort was 41%, but only 34% in the 2005 cohort. I’m actually surprised that they are not finding majorities of self selected participants expressing these views. Perhaps even more surprising is that the report clearly regards these results as an indication of the program’s success.

I hope only 34% of the Senators return to the US thinking Israel is a democracy.

Monday 19 February 2007

Congress disapproves

Every once in a while, the NY Times publishes an editorial that makes a sensible point. And you end up wondering whether they are doing as much good as harm.

Yesterday’s editorial, for example, welcomed

the House of Representatives’ long-overdue attempt to shake some sense into Mr. Bush with a resolution opposing his decision to send another 20,000 combat troops to fight this disastrous war without any plan to end it.

As if the non binding resolution was going to ‘shake some sense into Mr Bush’! I think he’s too far gone for that at this stage. But in any case, check out what the House debated day and night for a week.

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring) that —

(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and

(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on Jan. 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

‘Disapproves’! That’d give any lame duck president the willies!

Anyway, the Times editorial immediately goes on,

The next necessary steps will require harder thinking and harder choices. Congress needs to do what Mr. Bush is refusing to do: link further financing for the war to the performance of Iraq’s Shiite-led government, which is making no serious effort to rescue its country from civil war.

It’s all very well for the Times to demand harder thinking from Congress, but in my view, they could make a more convincing case for this if they exercised their own cognitive capacity at least to the extent of observing the situation in Iraq. The ‘Iraqi government’ is an instrument of US policy! It was established as window dressing for the US occupation. What it does and doesn’t do corresponds to what the occupation forces demand of it. It can’t rescue ‘its country’ from the civil war that the US precipitated with malice aforethought. If the Times were the least bit serious in its professed concern about the sectarian violence, it would refrain from demanding that

Congress needs to impose clear benchmarks and rigorous timetables, insisting that the Iraqi government stop equivocating and start disarming sectarian militias, adopt a formula to share oil revenues equitably and end employment discrimination against Sunni Arabs. Congress must be prepared to cut off financing if the Iraqis refuse.

Instead, it would attribute blame where it lies, with the invasion and occupation itself. Instead of the smoke and mirrors of their puerile and transparent calls to threaten the Iraq quislings, they need to make demands directly on the organ grinder. As for the oil revenues, well, why do they keep going on about that, as if that little ‘production sharing agreements’ scandal weren’t already out in the open.

Congress’s overriding goal must be to find the most responsible way to extricate American troops from what is becoming an increasingly unwinnable war, while trying to contain the suffering and minimizing the damage to American interests in the region.

The war was never winnable because it started off on bogus grounds. A US invasion could never achieve the disarmament of Iraq for the simple reason that Iraq had no WMD. So what could they mean by ‘win’. The US has already installed the compliant ‘government’ it always wanted. Cheney’s Halliburton cronies have made off with billions in ‘reconstruction’ loot and the Iraqis still don’t have power, safe water, sewerage, schools, hospitals, and all the other stuff two US wars and over a decade of US sanctions have deprived them of. They’ve instituted the tax and oil exploitation regime of the neocons’ dreams. They have a military foothold in the middle of the planet’s principal oil producing region. The only problem is the hearts and minds of the Iraqis. That’s all that’s left to win. And maybe that’s not so much of a problem.

Which reminds me, I don’t think I’ve mentioned this in an actual blog post, although I’ve put it in a comment or two. The Johns Hopkins survey report in October that estimated the number of excess deaths in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion at about 655,000 was conducted in May-July last year. Iraqis have obviously continued dying since then, and at an accelerating pace, from all reports.

Deploying a slightly suspect methodology, I have averaged the estimate, along with the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval that the Lancet paper reported, to arrive at new estimates. On this basis, the probable number of excess Iraqi deaths as of this month stands at 769,583. Projecting from the July figures, we would be 95% certain that the true number lies in the range between 461,750 and 1,107,597. And counting. Since the numbers dying is on the increase, this is almost certainly an underestimation and the probability that at least 450,000 have died is therefore very high. Clearly there’s no point in even asking why these numbers don’t see the light of day in the mainstream press – only American deaths count.

So, of the estimated pre invasion population of 27 million, the occupation troops have already killed at least 450,000, and perhaps as many as 1.1 million – that would be over 4% of the population, and counting. Another 2 million have been driven into exile, with 2000 more leaving daily.

But surely that can’t be what they mean by ‘contain the suffering’? These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. For every estimated death, there are quite literally uncounted injured people, most of whom don’t have access to the treatment and medication, even the pain relief, that might ameliorate their personal suffering. Nobody knows how many have received injuries that will make them miserable for the rest of their lives. And for every injured person, there must be at least one family member suffering alongside them, perhaps devoting themselves to the care of the wounded.

Obviously the bottom line is, as always, ‘American interests in the region’. It goes without saying that America has interests in the Persian Gulf region just as it goes without saying that Iraq has no interests in, say, the Caribbean. In a shameless replay of the tradition of US ‘left’ criticism of the Vietnam adventure, it’s not that there was anything wrong with invading Iraq on bogus pretexts, turning the place into a shambles, deliberately setting ethnic and religious groups at each others’ throats… It was an honest ‘mistake’. ‘We’ meant well. After all, ‘we’, in the words of Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, who makes Thomas L Friedman look like a rational human being, conducted ‘a war that toppled a monstrous dictatorship, opened the door to decent Arab governance, and has become the central front in the struggle against radical Islam’. And due to Bush’s bungling, and not any ulterior motives or greed or anything like that, now ‘our’ precious ‘interests’ are in peril and we need to minimise damage to them.

The LA Times in a slightly less cynical vein, thought

But what the members said was less important than what they did, which was to give vent to the American people's impatience with a war that has cost more than 3,000 American lives and will soon begin its fifth year.

Giving vent to impatience is at least as good as actually ending the carnage, obviously, and the carnage that counts is the 3000 US troops recorded as killed in the invasion and occupation so far, not counting mercenaries and the like.

The LA Times also reports

But Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) asked Democrats: "How can we say you support the troops when you don't support sending the people necessary to back them up to do the job that we sent them there to do to start with?"

I don’t suppose there’s anything particularly unusual about electing representatives whose memories don’t extend back four years when ‘the job that we sent them there to do to start with’ was to disarm Saddam Hussein’s regime of the WMDs that could reach London within 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe’s editorial makes the point that

A non binding resolution has rarely resolved anything. But that vote, and another expected today in the Senate, are the beginnings of a serious effort on Capitol Hill that could -- and, it is to be hoped, will -- force a change in the administration's calamitous war policy.

They note further

There is an irony here that may transcend the Iraq war itself. For six years, Bush has steadily grasped at the powers of Congress, the courts, and the people themselves, brazenly claiming them for the executive branch. Now, his invasion of Iraq, with its false advertising and bungled occupation, plus his stony resistance to wise counsel, including that from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, have led Congress to challenge two of the most fundamental presidential prerogatives -- the powers to prosecute wars and to set foreign policy.

And they quote, seemingly with approval,

Representative Henry Waxman of California said flatly on the House floor yesterday that it is "time for Congress to use the appropriations process to end this war."

Since then, of course, the Senate failed by four votes to decide to consider the resolution from the House of Representatives. A shame, really, when according to the Globe

Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware has suggested that the 2002 congressional authorization of force in Iraq could now be declared null and void since its rationale -- weapons of mass destruction -- has turned out to be nonexistent and the target -- Saddam Hussein -- is dead. A congressional vote to withdraw the 2002 resolution could leave Bush with questionable authority.

But the Senate will have to consider the funding bill and from what I read there is very little cause for optimism. Even though the Democrats acknowledge that they gained control of the House on the strength of the perception that they would get out of Iraq, I don’t think there’s any question where they really stand. Majority Leader Pelosi has absolutely ruled out impeachment, which strongly suggests bad faith at least on her part. And she’s not the leader because she bucks the trends in the party. The majority in the Senate was a myth to begin with, as it counted Connecticut Senator Joseph ‘Starve the Palestinians into submission’ Lieberman as a Democrat, even though he was elected as an independent over the Democratic candidate.

What I want to see from the Democratic Congress is starts out by refusing to fund the occupation for another minute. Biden’s recission resolution sounds like a good idea. Everyone who voted for that should be deeply ashamed and frankly, I’m surprised they are even prepared to appear in public, much less run for public office. Not that I believe for an instant that Obama would have hesitated to authorise Bush to do his worst, but at least he wasn’t there at the time. Senator Clinton, for one, however, is not in the least embarrassed.

“If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from,” Mrs. Clinton told an audience in Dover, N.H.

There are indeed others to choose from, though I couldn’t say whether any of them would be an improvement. Still, if she can’t admit a mistake, ‘the Free World’ will be better off without such a leader. Sure, it’s about time the US had a woman as head of state, but is it absolutely de rigueur that she be cut in exactly the same mould as Mrs Aquino, Mrs Bhutto, Mrs Meir, Mrs Çiller, and Mrs Gandhi?

Everybody in the peace movement knew the Office of Special Plans ‘intelligence’ was a crock, but why should a Senator with access to information resources we can’t even dream of be embarrassed to have swallowed that neocon crap hook, line, and sinker?

Beyond that, none of this weaselly talk of ‘withdrawal’, ‘over the horizon’, ‘bases’, and whatnot. Get the troops onto all those ships lurking in the Gulf menacing Iran and sail them back to the Continental US, where they can, if they’re so inclined, protect US citizens from the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan hordes poised to attack.

Then we can start talking about reparations.

Sunday 18 February 2007

Another one bites the dust

Way back in 1970, when I was an oblivious, clueless, teenage hippie, I took the money I’d saved from washing beans and chopping onions at the Mexican food stall at the Woodstock festival and bought a one way ticket to Luxemburg on Icelandic Airlines, en route to an experiment in communal living on a kibbutz in the Negev. On arrival, the Luxemburg immigration authorities insisted I buy a return ticket. After hitchhiking around Europe for a few months, I boarded a ship in Pyraeus and sailed for Haifa, suffering a combination of ouzo and seasickness.

Even though Kibbutz Gvulot (‘borders’, from its proximity to the erstwhile Egyptian border, which wasn’t there at the time) was quite small and strictly agricultural, I soon realised that it wasn’t the kind of commune I was looking for. It always struck me as odd that a guy would come around in a van every morning and take away all the eggs and leave a few dozen stamped with the egg marketing coop’s logo.

As a ‘left wing’ kibbutz, there was a communal nursery, but since Gvulot didn’t have its own school, the school age kids spent the week at a neighbouring kibbutz and returned for the weekend. Everybody ate together three meals a day, but the members had their own tvs and would often retire to their own rooms after dinner rather than congregate in the communal tv room to watch the compulsory ‘Number 6’, as ‘The prisoner’ was known. Over the course of my six months there, I was appalled to learn that privileges accrued to members with experience. Better and bigger accommodation, overseas holidays, and the like.

Nor was that the only evidence of hierarchy. Obviously, the members were at the top of the heap and had jobs like managing the kitchen or the sheep, or the chooks, or the dairy cattle, or the potato fields, or the peach, apricot, orange, grapefruit, and mango orchards. There were some Algerian and Moroccan Jews from Beersheva who were contracted to do things like painting and laying concrete footpaths. That was one of my main jobs – mixing concrete. Every three months, we’d get 80,000 day old chicks, raise them until they got to a certain size, pack them in boxes late at night, and ship them off for slaughter. I got excused from this last task after one time on the strength of my vegetarianism. The task of shovelling up three months’ accumulation of chicken shit fell to the lot of some Palestinians, who worked from before first light until way past sundown for what I seem to recollect was a horrible pittance. Volunteers like me got all kinds of jobs. Kitchen and dining room work, pruning trees, some even got to drive around on tractors. I guess we were pretty near the top of the heap.

Since then, I’ve learned that the kibbutzim were really set up principally to grab more land and demarcate the limits of Jewish control, as well as to serve as ad hoc military bases. It’s certainly no coincidence that Gvulot was so near the border. Indeed it was first established in 1943 as a lookout post.

Anyway, notwithstanding the allegedly socialist principles on which the kibbutzim were founded, it turned out to be a lot more capitalistic than I had anticipated. And now, I read in Ha’aretz that the very first kibbutz has decided to privatise itself.

Degania A, located southwest of Lake Kinneret, was founded in 1910.

"Degania represented and still represents the model and the epitome of the social values of the [kibbutz] movement in Israel," said Shai Shoshani, chairman of the kibbutz management committee.

Degania A is currently defined as a "renewal kibbutz," that is, one in which members are paid differential salaries, and where apartments and property are distributed among members.

So, in case anyone was still entertaining any illusions after the new management structure of the Mondragón Cooperatives, it just goes to show that you can’t sustain an island of socialism, or even ‘socialism’, in a capitalist world. Capitalism

must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

Saturday 17 February 2007

‘Gaza is sorry for these indiscretions…

…this poor taste, this unseemly topic of conversation…’ A moving and graphic piece by Jennifer Loewenstein, not for the queasy.

Most of the other bodies still had their faces intact... On this day the hospitals will be filled beyond capacity again… a tumbledown graying, decaying heap, yawning, tired, wretched, full of garbage… The joke is the cerulean blue sky illuminating the rubbish tip, the palm trees and purple flowers beaming in the November sun—natural non-sequiturs… So, 40 years after 1967 and 58 years after 1948, why is the occupation not yet over? Because Israel does not want it to end. Because Israel wants the land and the resources without the people…

Independent journalists need not apply…

…for freedom of the press. Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman writes,

Josh Wolf, videographer and blogger, is now the journalist imprisoned longest in U.S. history for refusing to comply with a subpoena. He has been locked up in federal prison for close to six months…

In a recent court filing, U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan says it's only in Wolf's "imagination that he is a journalist."…

The problem for Wolf? Independence. He lacks the backing of a large media organization that could agitate to protect his rights. Wolf says there is "a divergence between how the government's handled my situation as an independent journalist and how they've dealt with the corporate media, which have also been found in civil contempt."

Read the full article for her account of the amazing legal gyrations performed to deprive Josh of the protection of California’s shield law.

US$2.9 billion only goes so far

Anticipating US president Bush’s final budget in February 2008, former Israeli Ambassador to the US has recommended that Israel request a half billion dollar increase in military aid from the US, which now stands at about US$2.4 billion. Ayalon’s rationale,

“Why this figure? Because a request for $2.9 billion will be more acceptable than a request for $3 billion. In supermarkets, you see that prices are rounded downwards, from $10 to $9.99, and that was the logic guiding me.”

In 1998, the US and Israel struck an agreement to gradually increase military aid from $1.8 to $2.4 billion over a ten year period while simultaneously reducing non military aid from $1.2 billion to nothing. According to a June 2006 AIPAC briefing, ‘Making the Case for Aid to Israel’,

Since 1998, Israel’s bold aid initiative has saved the United States $1.80 billion dollars. At the end of the reduction period, Israel’s overall aid will be reduced from $3 billion dollars to $2.4 billion. That is a net savings for the United States of $600 million each year.

In AIPAC’s view,

U.S. aid to Israel is a cost-effective tool of U.S. foreign policy that enhances American national security interests by strengthening our only democratic ally in an unstable and vital region of the world. Israel stands shoulder to shoulder with the United States in countering the most dangerous threats the U.S. faces in the region including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by rogue regimes. Israel and the United States also share the strongest resolve in working together to fight the global war on terror.

So that would explain the ten year plan to increase military aid, as well as the new proposal for a further increase.

It turns out that since 1974, this military aid to Israel has not been in the form of ‘grants’, but, if you can tell the difference, ‘Loans with Repayment Waived’. According to a Congressional briefing on the matter, it seems

Israel preferred that the aid be in the form of loans, rather than grants, to avoid having a U.S. military contingent in Israel to oversee a grant program. Since 1974, some or all of U.S. military aid to Israel has been in the form of loans for which repayment is waived…From FY1974 through FY2003, Israel has received more than $45 billion in waived loans.

But what about the ‘economic’ aid? The 2007 request was for $120 million and next year is the year it should vanish altogether.

According to the charity Lev laLev (Heart to Heart)

At the Rubin-Zeffern Children’s Home, the girls… are furnished with clothing, medical and dental care, enrichment courses, tutoring and field trips...Some girls are true orphans while others are "living orphans", those whose parents, at best, are unable to care for them and at worse, abuse them…Many of our services are beyond what Israel's Department of Welfare subsidizes… And like our own daughters, this does not stop at the age 18, despite the suspension of Israel's Department of Welfare subsidies at that age. [my emphasis]

That’s why

We invite you to join us in this important work. There are many sponsorships opportunities for individual girls as well as donations to the orphanage in general.

But it’s not just abuse that Jewish children face in the Jewish state. In December, the Israeli National Council for the Child released its annual report.

According to the 540-page report, one-third of Israel's children (826,000) lived below the poverty line in 2005…"For many children in Israel, life is really, really bad and nothing is done to help them," said council director Dr. Yitzhak Kadman in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. "It has not always been like that. Twenty years ago, for example, only eight percent of the child population lived under the poverty line; today that figure is 33%."

The Meals4Israel site reports that according to a report compiled by Dr. Momi Dahan of The Israel Democracy Institute on behalf of the Caesarea Forum

Israel tops the list of Western countries in terms of the number of poor families, followed by the United States (17 percent), Spain (14.3 percent), Italy (12.7 percent), England (12.4 percent), Germany (8.3 percent), Belgium (8 percent), Austria (7.7 percent ), Holland (7.3 percent), Sweden (6.5 percent), Luxemburg (6 percent), and Finland (5.4 percent).

Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, Colel Chabad, Meir Panim, Jerusalem Open House, are just some of the other charities soliciting donations to feed hungry Israeli Jews.

The country established for the benefit of Jews, it turns out, is ‘a cost-effective tool of U.S. foreign policy that enhances American national security interests’, to the exclusion of the welfare of Jewish children, who just might have benefited from the non military aid that Israel and AIPAC were so keen to relinquish in favour of more cluster bombs and D-9 bulldozers.

Friday 16 February 2007

'Why the working class?' by Hal Draper

A few days ago, in the course of an exchange of emails, it occurred to me that I ought to send my correspondent the text of a pamphlet I had transcribed back in 1997 – Why the working class? by Hal Draper. So I found it on a backup disk and sent it off. Then I got the brilliant idea that it wasn’t doing anyone much good on one of my backup disks. So I wrote to the Marxists Internet Archive (MIA) to offer it to them.

The MIA is a mind boggling resource. It includes an encyclopaedia of Marxism, graphics, audio, all the bells and whistles. But most important, a very comprehensive and constantly expanding collection of the works of Marxist writers – nearly exhaustive collections of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky… – and other writers – Darwin, Einstein, Adam Smith, Sun Tzu and on and on… I think the English archive is the most comprehensive, but the German, Spanish, and French archives are very large and there is at least some material in more than forty other languages. If you are reading this and haven’t explored the MIA, you have quite a treat in store. Every time I have a wander around, it blows my mind.

Now it turns out MIA has had a bit of difficulty of late. Specifically,

On January 13th the MIA server was taken down by a sustained denial of service attack from China. You can still access MIA thanks to our mirror servers, who have overcome the Chinese attackers. Please note that any e-mail sent to will not work until we have our new server setup by March 1st.

To recount events to date: first, we are attacked by China; second, our server hardware fails; third, our hosting provider is shutting down in two weeks.

In this context, Einde O’Callahan, the MIA Draper Archivist, points out that the more widely distributed the text, the better. So I’ve decided to put it in my blog both to draw it to the attention of a wider audience and as a kind of a backup.

And I am taking the opportunity to plug MIA.

First of all, buy the DVD! It costs US$40 including shipping anywhere. There appears to be a $5 surcharge for priority overseas airmail and facilities for free copies (on CD) etc. if you can’t afford it. Full details are at that link.

The reasons you need to buy the DVD are:

· ‘If the Archive is shut down by a publishing conglomerate or the government, having this information widely dispersed around the world, essentially untraceable, with the content entirely intact, is a great thing. Putting this content on CD allows anyone to easily burn extra copies and give them out to others, and pass the information onwards.’

· ‘We also sell the CD to raise money to pay for the costs associated with running this archive. All excess money we make goes into buying and distributing for free CDs to those who can't afford them in less advanced countries. If you are able to pay, please do so.

· This is one of the most incredible bargains on the planet. Imagine what it would cost to buy just one volume of Capital, even second hand! On this DVD you’ll have it in a dozen languages and much more besides.

· If you’re stuck on a desert island with nothing but your laptop and a solar charger, forget Casablanca, this is the DVD you want to have with you. Much more than a lifetime’s reading.

· It makes a terrific raffle prize.

Second, if you’ve scanned or keyed anything that’s not there already, or want to, or can do some proofreading or the like, you can volunteer.

Finally, if you have any spare cash lying around, you can make a donation to support the great work they’re doing.

I hasten to add that you should probably hold off on any of this until 1 March, or whenever the site is fully functional again.

Hal Draper (1914-1990) was an American socialist associated with the theory of bureaucratic collectivism, which proposed that the soviet bureaucracy constituted a new type of ruling class, neither strictly capitalist, nor socialist. He is best known for his Karl Marx’s theory of revolution, of which the fifth posthumous volume was recently published. He is also the author of the well known pamphlet, The two souls of socialism, which I believe is the source of the expression ‘socialism from below’. Draper produced the Adventures of the Communist manifesto, which provides a comprehensive history of its publication and translation, the full German text, with a couple of standard translations and his literal one, and copious explanatory notes on every line. He is a profoundly erudite writer with a friendly and engaging style.

Why the working class? attempts to answer precisely that question, explaining that even though as individuals workers are no better or worse than anyone else, our particular relation to the forces of production makes us the class that can end the capitalist atrocities once and for and create a new society.

I know many of the people I send this to will have read the pamphlet a long time ago, or consider Draper’s arguments elementary. But there are some for whom it will be a revelation. And even if you don’t need to read it yourself, you probably know someone who does. It only takes a few minutes.

Finally, on further investigation, I find that there is already a version of Why the working class? on the internet. It is slightly abridged and has different paragraphing and formatting to this version.

If you find any errors, please let me know promptly and I’ll correct it here and send a corrected version to MIA.


Why the Working Class?

By Hal Draper

Written in the Fifties by American socialist, Hal Draper, author of the multi-volume Karl Marx’s theory of revolution, this pamphlet explains why revolutionaries look to the working class as the key to social transformation.

For social change toward a better world, socialists believe the most important and indeed decisive force is the struggle of the working class.

Why the working class?

Why do socialists believe there is a special connection between their own great goal of a new society and the interests of labor, this one segment of society? Is it because we ‘idealize’ workers as being better, or more clever, or more honest, or more courageous, or more humanitarian, than non-workers?

Isn’t it rather true that the workers have time and again followed reactionary courses and leaders and have by no means shown any invariable affinity for progressive causes? Haven’t they been misled and deceived like any other section of society? Aren’t they filled with race prejudice in the US, sometimes even more so than the upper classes? If it is true that workers are ‘naturally’ pro-socialists, why is it that they have made such a mess of things, voting for reactionaries and fakers and supporters of the status quo?... And so on.

Most of this type of questioning is based on simple misunderstanding of the socialist viewpoint about the working class. Especially in this country [the US], where the socialist movement has always been relatively weak, the most popular anti-socialist notions are most often founded on misinformation about what socialists believe, because their voices have not been loudly heard.

Socialists do not ‘idealize’ workers in any sense whatsoever.

Taking them man for man, as individuals, there is no reason to argue whether workers are ‘better’ human beings than others because they are workers. This whole approach, whether pro or con, has nothing to do with the socialist conception.

To underline this in a different way: if we try to view social issues as merely conflicts between Good People and Bad People, then surely we must say that men who insist on starving others are Bad. The present minimum wage is surely a pittance; yet opposition even to this pittance was strong among employers, especially small employers, while virtually absent among workers. Is this tendency among employers because they are Bad Men? On the contrary, these employers are just as likely to be kind fathers, generous friends, indulgent husbands, charity-givers — not the type to deliberately run over children in the street. They act one way as individual atoms in the social fabric; the act quite another way as part of their class collectivity.

They explain this, when they do, by saying, ‘Business is business.’ This is their way of distinguishing their individual human thoughts and role from their role as a member of the business community — that is, of their class. In the latter case, the conditions of existence and interests of ‘business’ make out of them a social force that has little resemblance to their individual psychologies.

Like every other class or group, the working class is more than the sum of its individual atoms.

Man for man, workers are not ‘naturally’ more pro-socialist than anyone else. It is a question of what direction they are pushed in by the conditions of their existence as a class and by their interests as workers, just as with any other group.

This indeed is one reason why so often socialist ideas tend to be initiated in a systematic way not by ideologists from the working class but by men from the ‘educated classes’, the bourgeoisie and intellectuals, men like Marx and Engels, for example, who were not proletarians themselves — although it should be noted that the impulses to the systemization of such ideas were coming from the working masses’ struggles and conditions, not from other sections of society. Individuals were led to align themselves with the working class.

If they were drawn in this direction, it was because here was the dynamic social force which they recognised as the decisive one for putting flesh and blood on ideas.

When a working class is politically and socially undeveloped, it is well nigh inevitable that its members will be filled with all sorts of backward and even reactionary notions. For example, it has often been found in the US that racial intolerance decreases with amount of education: college [university] graduates are less prejudiced, etc. Now, in general, working class children get less schooling than upper-class offspring. So according to this pattern, workers should be far more filled with racism than the middle class. It is instructive to see where this neat pattern does and does not hold.

It holds best where labor is most poorly organized as a class and most recently organized, and where it is organized in the least class-conscious fashion. The [American] South is not only a cauldron of racism but also a sinkhole of union-busting and open-shoppism. Toward the other end of the scale, racism is combated — as nowhere in middle-class groups — in the more militant mass-production unions that sprang from the CIO upheaval, like the Auto Workers, not to speak of the socialist movement.

Here anti-racism is not a function of school education; it is a function of class education. In many a mass-production integrated local [union branch], the organisation is often far more anti-racist than the sum of its members. That is, the dynamics of class needs push it more strongly against racism, which is divisive of the class, than do the individual opinions of its members.

What we have been emphasizing is that the socialist sees no special magic in the ‘worker’ as an atomized individual. The special ‘advantage’ of the working class springs from inherent drives of its class position in society, its ineradicable interests as a group, its conditions of life; and its ‘advantage’ comes into play only insofar as this class organises itself (as it is inevitably driven to do) and transforms the thinking of its individual components in the course of class experiences.

Now it is this sort of thing that the socialist calls the development of class-consciousness The US is the one modern country in the world where the working class is still at a rather elementary stage of class-consciousness. Therefore it is particularly in this country, and most particularly among academicians, who have no roots in the real social struggle of our times, that the special role of the working class is most persistently questioned.

It is much harder to do so in Great Britain, for example, where this ‘special role of the working class’ is the daily headache of the Tories, and also of the Labour Party leaders themselves. Or in France and Italy, where the strength of the Communist Parties is closely connected precisely with their ability to use and abuse ‘the special role of the working class’. Or in almost any other European country, where the working class is well organised as a class. Or even in leading countries of Asia and Latin America, where working-class-based forces play prominent roles out of all proportion to the size of the class.

In this respect it is the US which is ‘out of step’, which is the exception to the rule; and while American bourgeois ideologists may be grateful for this exceptional position, they have no license to deny the rule.

The ‘rule’ is that all over the world organized working class struggle is inextricably bound up with every effort toward freedom and human emancipation. Where the working class has been defeated, democracy and progress and humanity have been defeated too. Where the forces of freedom have fought, in Hungary 1956 as in capitalist Europe, it is the working class forces that have been in the van.

There is no other sector of society of which this or anything like it can be said — not the middle class, not the intellectuals, not the ‘educated classes’, not the students, not the ‘managers’, not anyone else except the organized working class, for good or ill.

What is the ‘advantage’ which the working class possesses, willy-nilly, by virtue of the terms of its own existence under capitalism? Here in outline form are the special characteristics inherent in a social class whose individual human components are (remember) no better or worse than the rest.

(1) The conditions of life of the working class lead it to organize in the first place — and most solidly as a homogeneous movement.

There is, of course, one other class which rivals the working class in this respect: the capitalists themselves, whose own class-consciousness and sense of class solidarity are ever-present models for the workers.

Never has a predominantly agrarian population (farmers or peasants) been able to duplicate the organizational achievements of the working class. The difference is no reflection on the individual farmer. By terms of their life, they live in atomized groups which stress self-sufficiency, separateness, reliance on individual effort; they are not thrown together in crowds and subjected to simultaneous stresses in the heat of social struggles as are workers.

Workers are taught organization not by superior intelligence or outside agitators, but by the capitalists themselves. They are organized on the assembly lines, in the factory gangs, in shifts, in work teams, in the division of labor of capitalism itself. Capitalism cannot live without ‘organizing’ its workers, teaching them the virtues of working together, therefore of solidarity.

It teaches discipline. It enforces the centralization of effort. It hammers home every day the advantages of pooled work, and the subordination of individual self-interest to the needs of a group.

It does not teach this lesson equally to all workers: it is plainer for assembly-line workers in the mass-production industries than (say) for an office secretary who takes dictation from a personal boss, who works with a boss rather than with fellow workers. This is intended only as a simple example of the different degrees of ‘education’ which capitalism’s conditions grant to different kinds of workers. This fact links up also with the social views which arise among these different strata of workers — simply on the basis of the first point: class organization.

(2) The interests of workers as a solidarized group, organized by capitalism lead them to struggle.

It must be emphasized that this often takes place quite apart from the conscious desires of and wishes of the labor leaders themselves. Labor leaders, risen from the ranks of lowly workers and aspiring to be accepted as respectable and responsible members of bourgeois society, often want to substitute pleasant and friendly conferences with management for any kind of conflict. Having freed themselves from the conditions of existence to which the mass of workers are condemned, they tend to become ‘bourgeoisified’; they want to integrate into the ruling class, or at least find as respectable a niche there as a corporation lawyer.

And indeed they could do so (so many do!) if not for the fact that it is the working class they are standing on in order to reach so high. For the working class needs representatives in order to oppose the bosses’ interests; but the bosses accept the friendship of these labor leaders only insofar as they ‘behave’. From below these bourgeoisified bureaucrats, there always arises the pressure of mass demands, the unslakable needs of the workers which cannot be wished away with fine talk about class collaboration, the aspirations streaming up from the depths of the class, demanding ‘delivery of the goods’.

Some bureaucrats continue their precarious balancing act for substantial periods, in ‘normal’ times of class quiet, particularly, as everybody knows; but even the most conservative and most bourgeoisified union leader must to some extent satisfy the class needs of his constituent base, or else. This is in the worst case, of course, and there are not a few such ‘worst’ cases in the society-corrupted labor bureaucracy of this country. But whether timidly or militantly, consistently or hesitantly, competently or crudely, even the conservative union leader who does not ‘believe’ in class struggle must be its instrument, to the extent that he functions as a labor leader at all.

(3) The direction of the workers’ organised struggle inevitably tends to be counter to capitalism — or, more finely, this struggle always tends to go outside the capitalist framework of institutions and ideas.

Steadily the labor movement’s insistence on social responsibility for all aspects of life comes in conflict with the capitalist insistence on the rights of private property. For the essence of capitalist private-property relations is that this whole area of man’s life — the economic sphere — is to be withdrawn from the rule of social responsibility, and is to be ruled by the unilateral power of capital as its birthright.

Capitalism has been forced into many compromises in this respect, as is well known — mainly this one, that (a) the state is accorded power to intervene as representative of ‘society’ provided (b) that the associated capitalist class retain full control of the intervening state. (This is the process of ‘Statification’ under capitalism in a nutshell.) But whatever the compromises, the working-class movement can never be satisfied — not even the undeveloped union-conscious labor movement of this country.

More militant unions have raised demands like trade-union intervention in the setting of prices or in peering over the capitalist’s books to check their profit. In periods of intense class struggle, sit-downers have taken over the factories without a qualm over the rights of private property. The tendency of the unions in politics is to support social controls all the way down the line — over offshore oil, natural gas, prices, health insurance, etc. — in the name of social responsibility vs. private property. Insofar as this support of ‘statification’ takes place without concomitant insistence on control by a socialized democracy, this is indeed a contribution to the bureaucratization of capitalism rather than its democratization. But given a socialist framework, it is this insistence on social responsibility vs. private property which is the germ of the labor movement’s inherent and ineradicable ‘creeping socialism’.

The intuition of the reactionaries is not altogether baseless in this respect, though often exaggerated and viciously directed. Even Samuel Gompers used to argue that his simple slogan of ‘more!’ for the labor movement was a more ‘revolutionary’ slogan than the socialists’. At any rate, it is true that, insofar as labor presses for ‘more’ out of the economic pie even when this is incompatible with capitalist needs — insofar as labor presses for ‘more’ social responsibility and less rule by private profit — insofar as labor presses in this direction without drawing back when the capitalists yell too violently — to this extent labor drives the logic of its own existence outside the bounds of the capitalist framework, and tends to explode it.

Of course, we socialists would maintain, and experience shows, that this does not happen except when the working class movement grows up to adopting socialist leadership and program; but all we are stressing in the present connection is that the class conditions and needs and interests of the workers drive their organized movement, in the course of its struggle, right up against the bounds of the capitalist system.

This is not true of any other group in society — only of individuals from other classes, who may decide to throw in their lot with the working-class struggle. It is enlightening, for example, to study the type of political program commonly adopted by non-working-class parties which set out to express protest: radical peasant parties, or urban middle-class reform parties, or farmers’ parties in the US.

Peasant parties most typically stop well short of proposing the abolition of capitalism, confining themselves to proposals for improving their class’s lot in ways compatible with the rule of private property; for the peasant is a very tenacious small private-property holder himself and does not easily see beyond this class limitation. In a different kind of case, as in the Nazi appeal to middle-class elements, a kind of pseudo-anti-capitalism may be patched up by directing slogans against bank capital as distinct from ‘good’ productive capital; or, as in the case of Henry Wallace’s program, supporting ‘progressive’ capitalists against ‘reactionary’ capitalists.

But what is noteworthy is this: only in the case of working-class parties, all over the world, does the program and goal of the movement turn fast or slow towards a basic assault on the fundamentals of the capitalist system itself.

Obviously most Americans will not consider that this is a good thing! But the fact itself is what we point to, as illuminating the ‘special role of the working class’, for the benefit of Americans who cannot see that the working class as a class does play any special role whatsoever.

(4) The conditions and interests of the working class not only push it toward organized struggle against capitalism, but impel it toward a courage and boldness and militancy which are well-nigh unique to it, at critical moments of struggle when these qualities are called for.

Now at first blush this may seem to be in contradiction with our earlier statements that workers are not necessarily personally ‘better’ in any sense. Are we now saying that workers are braver and bolder, etc.?

Only with the same qualifications previously explained. We are talking about their potentialities as an organized class — plus, perhaps, for many individuals, whatever carryover takes place from organized behavior as a result of education in struggle and conditioning in life situation. But it is the class behavior we are interested in.

Stereotypes may be bad, but class ‘stereotypes’ contain more than a kernel of truth. Thus, there is the ‘Timid Professor’. We have known many professors [‘lecturers’] who were not at all personally timid; yet the sweeping stereotype contains truth about the impact of academic life and its pressures upon the social psychology of professors.

In his White Collar, a study of the middle class in America, C. Wright Mills (a non-timid professor) drew on a generalized picture of the new middle class which is relevant here. They are the ‘rearguarders’, says Mills, waiting for someone else to move. As a group they have no cohesion, but are on sale to the highest bidder or the most likely winner. ‘They have no steady discontent or responsible struggle with the conditions of their lives. For discontent of this sort requires imagination, even a little vision; and the responsible struggle requires leadership’. As individuals with private positions (Mills continues) ‘they hesitate, confused and vacillating in their opinions, unfocused and discontinuous in their actions...they have no target on which to focus their worry and distrust. They may be politically irritable, but they have no political passion. They are a chorus, too afraid to grumble, too hysterical in their applause’. ‘In the short run,’ he concludes, ‘they follow the panicky way of prestige; in the long run they follow the ways of power.’

This scathing portrait is a picture of a social class, not an insult against middle-class individuals, just as we have been discussing the social potentialities of a class and not ‘idealizing’ workers.

But surely, realizing the truth of this portrait, one can see why middle-class groups simply cannot work up the dynamic drive which is necessary before one can be ‘courageous and bold and militant’.

Take a simple model: A factory worker on a picket line can and often does abuse entering scabs and may even need to be restrained from physical attack; he is not constrained by notions of bourgeois respectability, even though he may be ‘respectable’ and ‘bourgeois’ on normal occasions. He is, in fact, more alienated from class society, no matter what he thinks, or how he thinks. But now go along the scale of workers up (or down) toward more and more ‘respectable’ white-collar workers and employees, to office employees, to bank tellers, to fashion-house fitters, professors. And try to imagine them yelling at scabs on a picket line.

We use this example only as a handy and visualizable token of what is involved: the dynamism of the class in its organized struggle for ‘something better’. History provides a better record — the record of the working class in far more crucial situations than mere strikes: records of the heights of valor and self-sacrifice that have been reached by unknown workers, not named heroes, in revolutionary struggles. But these things are not visualizable for the average American, who after all is himself the product of a society dominated by middle-class mediocrity.

(5) Finally, we are talking about the organized and militant anti-capitalist struggle of the only class which has the social power and weight to abolish the old order and build a new society.

Whatever a historian may say about the role of force in revolutions, it is a Marxist principle that social revolutions are not made by bullets. This is a caricature of socialist revolution spread by certain types of professors. The Marxist socialist believes that when the working class, and its associated allies from other sections of the people, are in their massed majority ready for the abolition of capitalism, it is their social power which will determine the result in the last analysis.

The social power of the class depends not only on its numbers. It depends also on its homogeneity and organizability, as we have discussed — its striking power. It also depends on the indispensibility of the services which it performs in keeping the society’s work going.

No other class has its hands so closely on the basic work without which the system grinds to a halt. Not a wheel can turn without them. No other class can precipitate a social crisis by the deliberate decision of its organized cadres as in a large-scale strike. When the working class goes into battle, all of society is embroiled, for all depends on it. Every time the working class stirs, the rest of society quivers. Yet there is debate over its ‘special role’.

After all of the above, there is still a deeper ‘why’ to be asked, a question that goes behind all of the points we have made up to now. Within the confines of this article we can only point to it.

In the last analysis, the ‘rearguard’ character of the middle classes, which Mills pointed to, reflects their political and social blind-alley. They cannot give society a lead because there is no social program which effectively corresponds to the special interests of the middle classes. From the conditions of their existence arises no pointer to a way out for all of society.

In contrast, the working class, as the bottom layer of all classes, cannot even stir without pointing to a program, even when it itself rejects it: the abolition of capitalism, its class antagonist, and the assumption of social responsibility by the people democratically organized, regardless of private profit.

At bottom, it is because the interests of the working class, implicit in its struggles, point to a program for basic transformation and reconstruction of society, that this class is pushed to take a vanguard role in every struggle for freedom and emancipation.

We need hardly spend much space affirming how cognizant we are of how often the working class and its interests have been deceived and betrayed by its enemies and false friends. The history of capitalism, from one point of view, is nothing but a history of continued duping of the working class. In fact, deception of the working class is one of the most important conditions for the maintenance of capitalism or any other exploitative system.

It is not really necessary for us to learn all about this from critics who like to argue that socialist ‘faith’ in the working class is misplaced. It is hardly necessary for us to be reminded, also, that today in good part the Communist Parties live by their ability to dupe and deceive the working class in countries like France and Italy. The battle for socialist democracy against both capitalism and Stalinism can even be summed up as the battle to free the working class from its deception by each of these class enemies.

But this is a battle which, by definition, is won as soon as the workers are ‘undeceived’. It is meanwhile a downright irrelevancy in this connection for critics to tell us, as they do regularly, that because the working class has so long been deceived and betrayed, we must conclude that it is hopeless.

We point out only this: It is the working class that is crucial for reaction to deceive, not the middle classes or any of the ‘rearguarders’.

The socialist revolution, once observed Rosa Luxemburg, is a war in which there are necessarily a continuous series of ‘defeats’ followed by only one victory. Nothing can be guaranteed, of course, except the honor and dignity of fighting for a new and better world, rather than the vileness of adapting one’s mind and heart to a vile one. We guarantee to no one that the working class is predestined to ‘behave according to our blueprints’ even if we sit by in interested passivity to see whether it carries out its ‘mission’. We offer only a road of struggle and a choice of allies in the only war worth fighting, the battle for a socialist democracy against the rival world blocs of war and exploitation.