Member since: Wed Dec 11, 2013, 02:23 PM
Number of posts: 1,805
Number of posts: 1,805
Yale historian Timothy Snyder recently warned concerned readers and listeners to refrain from assuming that Ukraine’s ongoing tumult signals the growth of fascism. Notwithstanding the widespread presence of fascist symbols and anti-Semitic violence in the Ukraine, Snyder emphasizes the diversity of Ukraine’s anti-government protestors as well as the fact that other European countries such as France and Austria are currently facing graver ultra-right threats. Conceding that Ukrainian fascists should nonetheless be taken seriously, Snyder asserts that the Ukrainian democratic process needs to be re-legitimized, a conclusion that notably reverses cause and effect as it ignores the fundamental global economic crisis that precipitated the ongoing political one.
This reversal of cause and effect is unsurprising given that Snyder’s discussion... does little to describe fascism and nothing to explain it. The substitution of description for explanation in fact resembles much of the historical debate on fascism, with predominantly liberal scholars characterizing fascism as a nebulous phenomenon that is best defined negatively. Thus, fascism can be seen as anti-communist, anti-Semitic, anti-clerical (with exceptions depending on whether you consider Franco fascist, etc.), anti-democratic, anti-liberal, and so on. Meanwhile, writers mostly but not only (for instance Hannah Arendt) on the right have eschewed the concept of fascism altogether, instead suggesting that what has been termed fascist is in fact merely totalitarian. Reflecting the Cold War era goal of distancing Nazism from Western capitalism while comparing it to the Soviet Union instead, totalitarianism’s emphasis on an all-intrusive dictatorship, and not economics, struggled to explain the timing, and thereby the causes and implications, of fascism’s rise.
And it is this factor of historical timing that provides the greatest indication of what fascism in fact is. As Karl Polanyi noted in The Great Transformation:
In reality, the part played by fascism was determined by one factor: the condition of the market system. During the period 1917-23 governments occasionally sought fascist help to restore law and order: no more was needed to set the market system going. Fascism remained undeveloped. In the period 1924-29, when the restoration of the market system seemed ensured, fascism faded out as a political force altogether. After 1930 market economy was in a general crisis. Within a few years fascism was a world power.
That is, as Marxist historians of fascism have long argued, fascism at its essence is an outcome of capitalism in crisis. The quintessential counterrevolutionary movement, fascism responds to capitalism’s invariable crises by redirecting potentially revolutionary threats to capitalism to nationalist, (relatedly) racist (or within Europe’s right today, “culturalist”), and militarist violence that preserves the basic material conditions of class society. However, unable or uninterested in merely returning to what existed before, the defense of private property and profit amidst capitalist crisis frequently entails imperialist expansion abroad and the racially (or “culturally”) justified appropriation of wealth at home, as the maintenance of a status quo in crisis perforce requires its own radicalization.
To be sure, Europe is different today from what it had been in the 1930s. Not least, there is no powerful organized opposition to capitalism, let alone a perceived communist alternative governing the biggest country in the world. While counterrevolutionary movements, as Corey Robin has noted, often despise the ruling regime – which they decry as decadent and inept – as much as they fear revolution, a ruling regime is unlikely to employ fascism – which has little regard for the rule of law – as a bulwark to revolution if there is no revolution at hand.
Notwithstanding Polanyi’s description of how fascism waited in the wings during periods of market stability, growing fascist movements today will likely wait in the economically depressed wings (Svoboda occupies eight percent of Parliament, while Golden Dawn occupies six percent of Greece’s Parliament, not mentioning the movements in Hungary, Austria, France, and the Netherlands) until they are called upon to destroy a serious political threat from the anti-capitalist left should one arise (which is not to discount the preemptive, radicalizing, and unpredictable character of the opposition to anti-capitalism).
This hardly suggests that we should spend our time fearing a fascist future that is far worse than today (whatever the future will bring, it will be natural and our own, as Raoul Vaneigem has written), but only that we should recognize that the fascism we fear tomorrow is merely the unmasked savagery of the capitalism we know today.
Posted by El_Johns | Thu Feb 27, 2014, 05:37 AM (5 replies)
Wed, 02/19/2014 - 00:00 — Glen Ford
Electoral politics, the arena that half of Black America was barred from entering until only about 50 years ago, has become a vast wasteland, hopelessly polluted by corporate dollars.
That’s why what’s unfolding in Newark, New Jersey, Jackson, Mississippi, and Seattle, Washington, is so rare – and important.
In Seattle, there’s a group of folks who don’t mind working hard and building alliances, all the while telling the world that socialism is the only alternative to barbarism. Kshama Sawant, the newly minted city councilperson, and her Socialist Alternative comrades have forced corporate Democrats to pretend that they really would like to see the city’s minimum wage raised to $15 an hour. Socialist Alternative also demands that the rich pay for an overhaul of public education and transportation – a platform that most people would support, if they thought it had a chance of passing. Kshama Suwant and her comrades believe that people will vote in their own interests if the candidates have proven they are trustworthy.
In Jackson, Mississippi, 66 year-old Mayor Chokwe Lumumba has proven his selfless dedication to social transformation over many decades; as an activist with the Republic of New Africa; in his capacity as a people’s lawyer; and as one of the founders of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. He has now gathered members of that movement for an experiment in radical governance of the biggest city in the belly of the Mississippi beast. Mayor Lumumba and his comrades want to encourage a cooperative economy to build “wealth equity, economic democracy and self-determination in Jackson,” the South, and the nation. So far, there’s already been an unsuccessful attempt to impose a state takeover of local Jackson government, like in Detroit.
In Newark, New Jersey, which Cory Booker made into a playground for corporate educational experimentation, city councilman and high school principal Ras Baraka is running for mayor. He’s the son of the late poet/activist Amiri Baraka, and if even a fraction of the crowd that showed up for his father’s funeral actually works for his campaign, he’ll win. Ras Baraka opposes recent school closings and promises to bring economic development to the neighborhoods. But, when you are the son of Amiri Baraka, the subtext will always be self-determination – and what exactly does that mean when you’re running and governing as Democrat, as are both Baraka and Chokwe Lumumba? The theory seems to be that, since the Democrats don’t really stand for anything, then maybe they can be forced to tolerate some degree of radical Black politics. We shall see how that works out in practice.
Well, that was quick: By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FEB. 25, 2014
Mayor Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, Miss., Dies at 66
JACKSON, Miss. — Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist who persuaded voters here to accept a sales tax to fix crumbling roads and dated water and sewer systems, died Tuesday, the authorities said. He was 66.
City officials said Mr. Lumumba died at St. Dominic Hospital. A cause of death was not immediately clear, though the City Council president, Charles Tillman, who was sworn in as acting mayor, said he met Monday with Mr. Lumumba, who had a cold.
“He kind of joked around about it,” Mr. Tillman said.
Mr. Lumumba served one term on the City Council and was sworn in as mayor last July. He was one of two candidates who defeated then-Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. in the Democratic primary in early June. He defeated Jonathan Lee, a businessman, in the general election.
As mayor, Mr. Lumumba persuaded voters in this capital city to pass a referendum in January to add a one-cent local sales tax to help pay for improvements to an aging infrastructure.
State law says the Council will set a special election for voters to choose a new mayor. The Council has up to 10 days to meet, then the election must be held 30 to 45 days later.
Jackson Rising: The Bold Agenda of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba for 2014
One of the most overlooked stories of 2013 was the election of Chokwe Lumumba is Jackson, Mississippi where he garnered over 75% of the vote. The former lawyer of the late 2pac Shakur and former political prisoner Asaata Shakur is considered in many circles to be the nation’s most progressive and radical mayor.
He was an integral part of the Republic of New Afrika which called for Black people to establish a nation within a nation, looking at 5 key southern states Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina as the base.
He was the founder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement which has chapters all over the country and has been focused on a number of issues facing the Black community including the plight of political prisoners and police accountability among other things..
We sat down and spoke with Kali Akuno who does political outreach for the Lumumba administration to get an update as to how they have been doing in their 6 months in office and what bold plans and initiatives they intend to put forth in the upcoming new year..
For those who say we need change and we need to create a world where we ‘do the right thing‘ and take the proverbial bull by its horns and go to work’, then your attention and energy should be focused on Jackson, Mississippi. They are taking steps to do many of the things I’ve heard people say we should be doing in meeting after meeting, convention after convention and gathering after gathering.. Jackson is ground zero. If you are African-American, Jackson should really be watched considering the city 80% population, history and current day-to-day challenges.
In our conversation with Akuno, what stood out is the city laying critical ground work to be self-sustaining from top to bottom. They are changing the infrastructure of the city so that its green and ecologically efficient. They have aggressive entrepreneurial plans. They aren’t begging big corporations for jobs, they are creating them.. They have radical approaches toward social justice.. And they are putting forth an incredible conference in May called Jackson Rising..
Posted by El_Johns | Thu Feb 27, 2014, 01:04 AM (2 replies)
A new documentary reveals how the Mississippi state government spied on civil rights activists in the 1950s and 1960s.
A little-known state agency called the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission hired spies to infiltrate the civil rights movement and squash attempts to desegregate the state and register African Americans to vote. Some of the spies were themselves African-American.
The Commission generated more than 160,000 pages of reports, many of which were shared with local police departments whose officers belonged to the Ku Klux Klan.
The film, "Spies of Mississippi," also looks at how some of those reports contributed to the 1964 deaths of Freedom Summer activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner 50 years ago.
For more, we speak with Jerry Mitchell, an investigative journalist for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. He won the release of more than 2,400 pages of Commission records in 1989, and used those to reopen many cold cases from the civil rights era. His work helped lead to the 1994 conviction of the killer of Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers and paved the way for 23 more convictions. We are also joined by Dawn Porter, the award-winning producer and director of "Spies of Mississippi," which is now streaming online at PBS Independent Lens.
Posted by El_Johns | Thu Feb 27, 2014, 12:53 AM (0 replies)
Greek investigating judges have asked for nine more MPs in the far-right Golden Dawn party (3rd-largest party in Greece) to have their parliamentary immunity lifted to allow criminal charges to be laid. If parliament backs the request, all 18 of the party's MPs would be accused of running a criminal organisation.
Nine are already facing charges and party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos is one of six in jail pending trial. Their arrests followed the killing of an anti-fascist musician.
The judges also said additional charges should be laid against six of those already facing prosecution, including the party leader. Greek news agency ANA-MPA said the charges involved possession of firearms and ammunition with the aim to supply a criminal organisation.
A crackdown on the far-right party's activities began after musician Pavlos Fyssas, 34, was murdered last September. A party supporter was charged with voluntary manslaughter. State funding for the party was withdrawn the following month.
Golden Dawn, seen by many as neo-Nazis, won 7% of the vote in the 2012 Greek elections and took up 18 seats in parliament.
The party denies being a neo-Nazi movement although its logo resembles the swastika.
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Support for Golden Dawn fell sharply after a party supporter confessed to the fatal stabbing last year of Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist rapper, following an argument in a bar. Yet it has since rebounded to about 10 per cent, according to recent opinion polls.
The revenge killing of two Golden Dawn members in a drive-by shooting outside a party office in suburban Athens, which was claimed by a leftwing extremist group, triggered a wave of sympathy.
Some analysts now predict that Golden Dawn could win 15-20 per cent of the vote in May’s European parliament elections – even challenging the centre-right New Democracy party of Antonis Samaras, the prime minister, for second place behind the far-left Syriza party, the main opposition.
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Based on its alleged criminal activity, it is widely expected that Golden Dawn will be banned from participating in that contest. Yet the party has already drawn up a contingency plan to ensure its survival: A new political party, National Dawn, was officially registered last month by 200 Greeks who are supporters but not members of Golden Dawn.
Posted by El_Johns | Thu Feb 27, 2014, 12:25 AM (0 replies)
15,000 Svoboda members held a torchlight ceremony in the city of Lviv in honor of Stepan Bandera, a World War II-era Nazi collaborator who led the pro-fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B). Lviv has become the epicenter of neo-fascist activity in Ukraine, with elected Svoboda officials waging a campaign to rename its airport after Bandera and successfully changing the name of Peace Street to the name of the Nachtigall Battalion, an OUN-B wing that participated directly in the Holocaust. “’Peace’ is a holdover from Soviet stereotypes,” a Svoboda deputy explained.
Revered by Ukrainian nationalists as a legendary freedom fighter, Bandera’s real record was ignominious at best. After participating in a campaign to assassinate Ukrainians who supported accommodation with the Polish during the 1930’s, Bandera’s forces set themselves to ethnically cleanse western Ukraine of Poles in 1943 and 1944. In the process, they killed over 90,000 Poles and many Jews, whom Bandera’s top deputy and acting “Prime Minister,” Yaroslav Stetsko, were determined to exterminate. Bandera held fast to fascist ideology in the years after the war, advocating a totalitarian, ethnically pure Europe while his affiliated Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) carried out a doomed armed struggle against the Soviet Union. The bloodbath he inspired ended when KGB agents assassinated him in Munich in 1959.
Many surviving OUN-B members fled to Western Europe and the United States – occasionally with CIA help – where they quietly forged political alliances with right-wing elements...In Washington, the OUN-B reconstituted under the banner of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), an umbrella organization comprised of “complete OUN-B fronts,” according to Bellant. By the mid-1980’s, the Reagan administration was honeycombed with UCCA members, with the group’s chairman Lev Dobriansky, serving as ambassador to the Bahamas, and his daughter, Paula, sitting on the National Security Council. Reagan personally welcomed Stetsko, the Banderist leader who oversaw the massacre of 7000 Jews in Lviv, into the White House in 1983.
“Your struggle is our struggle,” Reagan told the former Nazi collaborator. “Your dream is our dream.”
When the Justice Department launched a crusade to capture and prosecute Nazi war criminals in 1985, UCCA snapped into action, lobbying Congress to halt the initiative. “The UCCA has also played a leading role in opposing federal investigations of suspected Nazi war criminals since those queries got underway in the late 1970’s,” Bellant wrote....
Back in Ukraine in 2010, then-President Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera the title of “National Hero of Ukraine,” marking the culmination of his efforts to manufacture an anti-Russian national narrative that sanitized the OUN-B’s fascism. (Yuschenko’s wife, Katherine Chumachenko, was a former Reagan administration official and ex-staffer at the right-wing Heritage Foundation). When the European Parliament condemned Yushchenko’s proclamation as an affront to “European values,” the UCCA-affiliated Ukrainian World Congress reacted with outrage, accusing the EU of “another attempt to rewrite Ukrainian history during WWII.” On its website, the UCCA dismissed historical accounts of Bandera’s collaboration with the Nazis as “Soviet propaganda.”
Following the demise of Yanukovich this month, the UCCA helped organize rallies in cities across the US in support of the EuroMaidan protests. When several hundred demonstrators marched through downtown Chicago, some waved Ukrainian flags while others proudly flew the red and black banners of the UPA and OUN-B. “USA supports Ukraine!” they chanted.
Posted by El_Johns | Tue Feb 25, 2014, 10:59 AM (0 replies)
The most controversial element of the anti-government alliance is Svoboda (Freedom), an extreme right-wing political party that not only has representation in parliament, but has been dubbed by its critics as a neo-Nazi organization. Britain’s Channel 4 News reported that Svoboda has assumed a “leading role” in the street protests in Kiev, with affiliated paramilitary groups prominently involved in the disturbances. Svoboda flags and banners have been featured in the demonstrations at Kiev’s Independence Square. During the continuing street riots, one Svoboda MP, Igor Myroshnychenko, created an iconic moment of sorts when he allegedly helped to topple the statue of Vladimir Lenin outside a government building, followed by its occupation by protesters.
However, despite its extremist rhetoric, Svoboda cannot be called a "fringe" party – indeed, it currently occupies 36 seats in the 450-member Ukrainian parliament, granting it status as the fourth-largest party in the country. Further, Svoboda is linked to other far-right groups across Europe through its membership in the Alliance of European National Movements, which includes the British National Party (BNP) of the United Kingdom and Jobbik, the neo-fascist, anti-Semitic and anti-Roma party of Hungary. The leader of Svoboda, Oleh Tyahnybok, who has appeared at the Kiev protests, has a long history of making inflammatory anti-Semitic statements, including the accusation during a 2004 speech before parliament that Ukraine is controlled by a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” Miroshnychenko also called the Ukrainian-born American film actress Mila Kunis a “dirty Jewess.”
Tyahnybok has also claimed that “organized Jewry” dominate Ukrainian media and government, have enriched themselves through criminal activities and plan to engineer a “genocide” upon the Christian Ukrainian population. Another top Svoboda member, Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn, a deputy in parliament, often quotes Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, as well as other Third Reich luminaries like Ernst Rohm and Gregor Strasser.
Svoboda also assails nonwhites. In February, Yuriy Syrotiuk, a Svoboda spokesman, expressed his unhappiness that Gaitana-Lurdes Essami, a half-Ukrainian, half-Congolese singer, represented Ukraine in the Eurovision music contest, citing that she “is not an organic representative of the Ukrainian culture.” Moreover, Svoboda expresses extreme hostility towards homosexuals – party members once attacked and sprayed tear gas at the participants of a gay rights rally in the capital Kiev.
In the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary elections, Svoboda won its first seats in the Ukrainian Parliament, garnering 10.44% of the popular vote and the 4th most seats among national political parties; this transposed into 37 parliamentary seats. In October 2012, Svoboda joined a formal coalition with the centre-right Batkivshchyna and UDAR parties to form the parliament's collective opposition, now a majority.
Amnesty International fears the extremist group's surge in popularity will help push through a homophobic law which proposes gagging the media, activists and human rights defenders.
Max Tucker, Amnesty International Ukraine campaigner, told Gay Star News: 'Svoboda's leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, has repeatedly made derogatory statements about sexual and ethnic minorities in Ukraine. 'He has referred to the idea of same-sex marriage as stemming from a group of "perverse and abominable values" and declared his intention to use his party's position in parliament to oppose such values, in order to cultivate "real Ukrainian national traditional values".
'Amnesty International is concerned that the existence of such beliefs in parliament will encourage the passage of legislation currently before it, which would criminalise the production or distribution of materials "promoting homosexuality" and make it punishable by up to five years in prison.
- See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/fears-ukraine-far-right-will-push-through-anti-gay-bill311012#sthash.NHy3ykeB.dpuf
'Sabbath of perverts’: Svoboda boasts of attacking gay demonstration
The ultra-nationalist Svoboda Party has admitted that their activists attacked gay community and human rights activists who were holding a protest in central Kyiv on Dec. 8 to commemorate international Human Rights Day.
Posted by El_Johns | Tue Feb 25, 2014, 01:14 AM (10 replies)
Thousands of Bosnian protesters took to the streets in the centre of Sarajevo on Friday, setting fire to the presidency building and hurling rocks and stones at police as fury at the country's political and economic stagnation spread rapidly around the country.
As many as 200 people were injured in protests that took place in about 20 towns and cities. Government buildings were set on fire in three of the largest centres – Sarajevo, Tuzla and Zenica.
At one point in the central Bosnian city of Tuzla, some of the 5,000-strong crowd stormed into a local government building and hurled furniture from the upper stories.
"The people entered the government building," said Mirna Kovacevic, a student who witnessed the protests. "They climbed to the fourth floor and started to throw files, computers, chairs from buildings. They burned parts of the building …
"Four storeys are blackened. People have burned the stuff that was thrown outside … Some people are trying to put the fire out. It's hectic."
The scenes in Sarajevo were similarly fraught on Friday night, as fire raged through the presidency building and hundreds of people hurled stones, sticks and whatever else they could lay their hands on to feed the blaze. Police used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon trying to disperse the crowd. Buildings and cars were also burning in downtown Sarajevo and riot police chased protesters.
"It is about time we did something," said a woman in her 20s who gave her name only as Selma. "This is the result of years and years of not paying attention to the dissatisfaction of the people."
The protests have bubbled up out of long-simmering discontent at a sluggish economy, mismanagement, corruption and unemployment, which is rising irresistibly towards 30%.
Posted by El_Johns | Sun Feb 23, 2014, 09:08 PM (2 replies)
Most Londoners will know someone suffering from the extortionate expense of finding a place to live. For those trapped in the rental market, the outlook is particularly bleak. In 2011 the Resolution Foundation reported that the price of securing a tenancy can be over £2,000 in upfront costs, while other figures have shown that one in three tenants now spend half their takehome pay on rent. As more and more areas of London become unaffordable to anyone but wealthy professionals, where will essential workers go to live: the people who clean the streets, and cook the food and keep the city ticking over? They can stay at home with relatives, or sublet from people with existing tenancies, but some do not have these options. When I found myself in this position, I went to the only place I could: the slums of the Thames.
To call the vessels here houseboats would be generous; though waterborne, two of the three had no engine, nor their original shapes, the structures having been ripped out and rebuilt upon the base. A more accurate description would be floating shacks; timber huts erected on decrepit old grain barges on the river in west London. Between them, these three shacks house on average 20 people, the numbers only falling in a harsh winter, when some can no longer stand the conditions. Nestled in the trees, by a row of other boats, they have been moored on public land by the Thames for well over a year now, having moved downstream when another Greater London council drove them out. The usual dog walkers and running groups pass by, mostly oblivious to the slum in their midst, unable to countenance that it could exist in this wealthy borough of one of the richest cities on Earth.
A report last year for the London Assembly said the city's waterways are the permanent or winter home of at least 4,000 to 5,000 residential boats, and 10,000 people. Some of the boats offer luxury short-term stays. Comfortable rooms appear on flatshare websites from time to time, at typical rents of £600 a month in areas such as Richmond. Other renting is likely to be entirely informal and reliant on word of mouth. It's impossible to say how many people are living in conditions as desperate as those I experienced.
Many of this group were the last people you would imagine finding there: a teenage girl who worked at John Lewis; an 18-year-old Essex boy who was an apprentice chef in Chessington World of Adventures. In an ideal world they would want an en-suite, with enough sockets for a hairdryer, straighteners, dryer and a flat-screen TV. Instead they found themselves in a damp, tiny room with electricity for three hours a day. There was only one reason these people were there: money. For their rooms they paid up to £360 a month, but mostly in the mid-£200s. There were no bills, but there were no services either; it was all off-grid.
How can someone charge £360 a month in a dwelling without running water, central heating or adequate sanitation facilities? Because the crippling costs of renting in London mean many people simply cannot raise enough money to secure decent accommodation.
Posted by El_Johns | Sun Feb 23, 2014, 08:52 PM (6 replies)
Pensacola has gone all-in in the run for Most Horrible City on the Planet with its "camping ordinance."
What is that, you ask?
Why, it's a law that prevents homeless people from covering themselves up with a blanket, and yes, this is a real thing, and yes, OF COURSE this is happening in Florida.
So far, attempts to have the city repeal the ordinance have fallen on deaf ears.
Maybe they think if enough homeless people die from exposure, the homelessness problem in Pensacola will vanish? BRILLIANT!
However, a Change.org petition to have the ordinance repealed has been on the internet for a few weeks now and has already hit more than 10,000 signatures.
Posted by El_Johns | Sun Feb 23, 2014, 04:34 PM (6 replies)