Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Thomas Riggins

The London Review of Books (8/27/09) has an interesting review of Gotz Aly's HITLER'S BENEFICIARIES: HOW THE NAZIS BOUGHT THE GERMAN PEOPLE by John Connelly ("It Never Occurred to Them"). These remarks are based on the review [my comments in brackets].

Aly, "the most influential popular historian" in Germany has a new answer to an old question. "What was the point of Nazism?" The new answer is that the Nazi's had a sincere desire to "better the lives of ordinary Germans." Aly thinks the National Socialists were just as much socialist as national. [This is an old argument used to discredit socialism. The Nazi's were socialists, look what they did, socialism and fascism are basically the same, etc.]

Here are all the goodies the German's got from the Nazi's [according to Aly]:

Twice as many holidays. [We could do with this.]

Pro tenant laws making it harder to raise rents and evict people. [Rent stabilization]

No tax on overtime pay. [Pro worker]

National health insurance for all retirees.[Medicare]

Low taxes on beer [this is enough to get anyone elected!]

The burden of taxes was placed on the rich not the workers and the poor.

These six things, and many other measures that "transferred wealth from the haves to the have-nots" indicates that Nazi Germany was a VOLKSSTAAT or people's state. [Not quite a state of the whole people since if you were not a Teuton you were not part of the Volk.]

Aly says the Nazi's did not rule by terror but by giving the people what they wanted [true democracy?] This was because they really feared the people and wanted to maintain their popularity at any cost once they had power. The people's "satisfaction" had to be "purchased" daily.

But Connelly says that even in the worst times, even at the end, Goebbels, for example, showed no fear of the people. He wrote in his diaries "that we will never lose this war because of the people. The people will persevere in this war until their last breath." [So it seems "fear of the people" was not a concern at the top].

Nevertheless, Nazi documents report that many of the Volk were alienated from the regime along class lines. The rich got first crack at the dwindling food supplies and things in the shops and this led to resentments.

But was Nazi Germany a "Volksgemeinschaft"-- a ''community of the people"? While many think it was not, that this was a fiction of German propaganda, Connelly thinks there was something real to it. The people never really rose up against the Nazis. Whatever complaints people may have had about their government, Connelly says , "Loyalty to Germany transcended any momentary doubts."

Connelly thinks Aly is an historian repulsed by the crimes of the Nazis and not too sympathetic to the Volk who followed them. Nevertheless he has been very much influenced by historians such as Martin Broszat (1926-1989) who wanted to do, and did, just what he thought to be scientific analysis of the Nazis, what he called "neutrally cool scientific research." Connelly says for many who followed in Broszat's wake "Human actors and their intentions faded from focus...."

Broszat and his followers made much of the fact that no direct order for the Holocaust issued by Hitler can be found. The Holocaust is NOT denied but it seems to have just happened-- sort of an "automatism." It is, Connelly writes, "as if it had been launched by a sadistic deus absconditus."

Trying to get away from moral issues, as it were, Aly sees the killing of the Jews as a by product of the need to win the war. They were killed "in order to take their valuables" for the war effort.

Aly "portrays neither the regime not the citizenry as hating Jews; everything they did was meant to further an end that could be calculated in terms of material reward." Connelly points out that in his book of over 400 pages, Aly treats antisemitism on only ten.

Aly still blames the Volk for the horrors of the Nazi regime. But what big moral crime were they guilty of, Connelly asks. It seems like their actions were the actions of any other people at war. They were "trying to improve their social security arrangements or of buying goods at reduced rates in French and Belgian shops." Aly says to his readers, the younger generation of Germans, yes what was done was not right. But the Jews were not killed qua Jews. They were victims of the war effort.

The consequent of his book, Connelly concludes, "is to shield wartime Germans from more searching historical inquiries."

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Thomas Riggins

With or without health insurance people are going to sicken and die. David Hume tells us, “The first entrance into life gives anguish to the newborn infant and to its wretched parent; weakness, impotence, distress, attend every stage of that life, and it is at last finished in agony and horror.” So having access to medical care may lighten this burden.

We live, so I am told, in a “democracy” and we have an elected Congress that represents the people. Or does it? Maybe it really represents just the interests of the big corporations. We may get some scraps now and then, but when push comes to shove the big boys get their way.

This is illustrated by a nice quote from the New York Times of 9-26-09. In that issue we read the following:

“The latest New York Times/CBS Poll found solid support for a government run insurance plan, or so-called public option, that would compete with private insurers. Other surveys have found similar results.

But what the public seems to want and what Congress plans to give them may not be the same thing.” [read the whole article on page A12]

The polls show that a Medicare like public plan should be offered to EVERYONE (65% in favor). Congress doesn’t think so.

This is simple. Those not in favor of a universal public option are AGENTS OF THE PRIVATE INSURERS. They don’t represent the people who elected them. They should be called out on this and dumped in the next election if they persist in going against the clearly expressed will of the people.

This is a fight we can win-- we only need the will.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Thomas Riggins

It is hard to keep track of all the right wing cranks out there, but the New York Times [9-26-09] has a feature article on Bill Wilson who runs an outfit called Americans for Limited Government-- which seems to be funded by some New York real estate magnate. Rather than admit he is just the mouth piece for some rich right-winger, Wilson’s outfit claims to have 400,000 members, which the times exposed as a Big Lie.

Here are a couple of really wacko positions this group has cooked up:

Obama is the biggest liar of all!

AmeriCorps suggests to them “a parallel with Hitler Youth”!

Here is the measure of the man. Wilson says: "We face what I personally believe is the greatest threat ever to individual freedom and democratic rule." Really! Obama, democratically elected, is a greater threat than an Axis victory in WW2, greater than McCarthy's fascism of the 50s, greater than a Union defeat by the slavocracy and greater than Bush #2 with his rigged elections and lies to take us to war.

Well, there IS a threat to individual freedom and democracy afoot in the land-- and I think it comes from the likes of Bill Wilson and his ilk.

Wilson says he believes in “small government” and thinks the majority of Americans do too. Nevertheless, even in the face of entrenched racism (President Carter knows whereof he speaks) Obama [the embodiment of BIG GOVERNMENT evil] won with 53% of the popular vote.

People should really get hold of the Times article. I’m putting Wilson down as a front runner for the annual En folkefiende Awards.

If anti-democratic rabble rousers such as the Bill Wilsons of the world really believe in small government, I suggest they move to Monaco.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Thomas Riggins

Part Two of Bertrand Russell's "The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism" comprises seven chapters under the heading 'Bolshevik Theory'. Briefly the main points of each chapter:

7. "Conditions for the Success of Socialism"

Russell makes some very interesting observations in his final chapter. I am not going to discuss observations specially related to conditions as they existed in 1920 but will address more general observations such that we could think them still applicable today.

"The fundamental ideas of communism," he says, "are by no means impracticable, and would, if realized, add immeasurably to the well-being of mankind." So, at least, communism is a worthwhile ideal to struggle for it seems. It is strange, however, for a logician such as Russell not to realize that the fundamental ideas of communism logically rest upon Marx's theory of value and since he rejects that theory he should think them to be impracticable.

Be that as it may, Russell finds no fault with the fundamental ideas, the problem is "in regard to the transition from capitalism." The capitalists may put up such a fight to maintain power that they will destroy what is good in our civilization and "all that is best in communism." So this must be avoided.

There can be no success for a communist revolution if industry is paralyzed. If that should happen the economy would breakdown, there would be mass unrest, starvation, and the communists would have to resort to a "military tyranny" to retain power and maintain order and the utopian ideals of communism would have to be practically junked.

So the success of any true communist revolution depends upon the survival of industry. This means that poor countries, small countries, and countries without fully developed economic power cannot have successful revolutions because the capitalists of the advanced countries would overthrow them or subvert them. Russell doesn't realize it but he is a Menshevik!

There is only one country large enough and powerful enough to have a successful revolution. "America, being self-contained and strong, would be capable, so far as material conditions go, of achieving a successful revolution; but in America the psychological conditions are as yet adverse." He further remarks that, "There is no other civilized country where capitalism is so strong and revolutionary socialism so weak as in America." Amen.

Wherever socialism comes to power the bourgeoisie will but up a fight, and Russell says the important question is how long the fight (he uses the word 'war') will last. If it is a short time he doesn't see a problem. If it s a long time there will be a big problem involving the ability of socialism to maintain its ideals.

Therefore, Russell draws the following two conclusions. There can be no successful socialist revolution unless America first becomes socialist or is willing to remain neutral with respect to a socialist revolution. World history since 1920 would seem to give some credence to this view. Second, in order to avoid the kind of civil war that would effectively cripple the realization of the the ideals of socialism, communism should not be set up in a country unless the great majority of the people are in favor of it and the opponents are too weak to initiate violent opposition or effective sabotage of the process.

Russell also says the working class should be educated in technical matters and business administration so as not to be overly dependent on bourgeois specialists. This would imply an advanced industrial society, which was not the case in Russia.

With respect to England, actually any advanced country-- especially the US-- is meant, Russell maintains the best road to socialism should begin with "self-government" in industry. The first industries to be taken over would be mining and the railroads (transportation) and Russell has "no doubts" that these could be run better by the workers than by the capitalists.

Russell says the Bolsheviks are against self-government in industry because it failed in Russia and their national pride won't allow them to admit this. This is misleading. The Bolsheviks certainly favored workers control and soviets being in charge of industry but the civil war made this difficult to establish in practice [thus war communism]. They had no objections to workers self-government, that's what the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) was all about. As far as having nationalized industries in capitalist countries being governed by worker's councils was concerned, this was permissible as a transitional stage to full socialism but not as an end in and of itself. Besides, a capitalist government would be unlikely to let the workers actually have the determining voice.

Russell thinks capitalists only care about money and power. So socialists should first take over the industries by means of self-government and allow the capitalists to keep their incomes, then,when all can see that they are drones, they can be dispossessed without too much trouble. In this way we could have a relatively peaceful transition to socialism without the collapse of industry. Historically, Social Democrats have supported this but have in practice, in almost all cases, betrayed the workers and helped out the capitalists instead.

Russell says that another reason industrial self government is a good idea is that it would forestall the type of over centralization found in Russia. This should not be a real concern as Russia was backwards and Russell's plan assumes an advanced economic basis. The important thing is that it would be a support for democracy.

Russell makes an important distinction about democracy. There are at least two ways we can think about democracy One is parliamentary democracy, or in the US the type of representational democracy set up over two hundred years ago basically to protect slavery. Russell says this type of democracy is "largely discredited" and that he has "no desire to uphold" it as "an ideal institution."

There is still "self-government" to be upheld, however. Russell doesn't give a more specific name for this, but today we use terms such as popular democracy, direct democracy (as opposed to representational democracy) or participatory democracy. The Russians tried soviets but the conditions on the ground made this impracticable. For the US, probably, some sort of mixture of popular democracy and parliamentary democracy (with the right of recall) would come near to what Russell had in mind.

Russell gives three main reasons for ensuring that socialism is based on his notions of self-government. 1) No dictator, no matter how well intentioned, "can be trusted to know or pursue the interests of his subjects [Stalin]. 2) A politically educated population depends on self-government [the Soviet working class was unable to defend its gains against Yeltsin and Gorbachev and Co.]. 3) Self-government promotes order and stability and reinforces constitutional rule [the Soviet constitution was just a piece of paper].

Russell's reasons are no doubt correct and successful socialism will be more likely if, when the time for the transition from capitalism comes, "there should already exist important industries competently administered by the workers themselves." This is certainly the ideal situation. But history does not always deal us the ideal hand. Sometimes, we are forced to play the hand we are dealt as it is not realistic to constantly fold your cards unless you have a royal flush.

Besides rejecting Bolshevism because he does not think it compatible with the type of stages and gradualism with respect to self-government that he has outlined [what the Bolsheviks questioned was if the ruling class would resort to violence if socialism won peacefully]. Russell has another big problem with the Third International and that it is that its methods are based on coming to power as a result of war and social collapse, whereas socialism can only work, i.e., keep its ideals intact, by coming to power in a prosperous country-- not one destroyed by war and social upheaval.

Let us say that this is an alternative method. In 1920 the Bolsheviks had no way of knowing if this [violence] was a doomed project. It appears to us now that Russell may have been correct. Socialism can come to power by this method, but it cannot succeed in building a real lasting and popular social order. Russia and Eastern Europe seem to have confirmed Russell's fears. The jury is still out with respect to the remaining socialist countries.

Russell ends by saying the Bolsheviks are too dogmatic and what is really needed is an attitude that is more patient and takes into consideration the complexity of the international situation and rejects "the facile hysteria of 'no parley with the enemy'". By 1948, when his work was reissued, Russell could have read Lenin's "Left Wing Communism An Infantile Disorder" and he would have realized how inappropriate his description of the thought of the Third International was.

He then says, Russian Communism "may fail and go under, but socialism itself will not die." True then, true now. The Great War, Russell says "proved the destructiveness of capitalism" and he hopes that the future will not show the "greater destructiveness of Communism" but rather the healing powers of socialism. What came was another world war of even greater destructiveness and the entrenchment of capitalism and its destructiveness. It now threatens the very Earth itself-- its atmosphere, its oceans, and its rain forests and all life on Earth. Now more than ever we need "the power of socialism to heal the wounds which the old system has inflicted upon the human spirit."

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Thomas Riggins

Part Two of Bertrand Russell's "The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism" comprises seven chapters under the heading 'Bolshevik Theory'. Briefly the main points of each chapter:

5. "Mechanism and the Individual"

In this section Russell asks if there is any alternative to the Bolshevik theory of violent revolution available for overcoming the negative social effects of capitalism? The Third International in its reply to the ILP said: "It is possible to think that the working class in England can secure Government power even without a revolution by means of Parliamentary election victories." But it also thought that the British ruling class would not permit a peaceful transition. This is still an open question in my opinion.
What does Russell suggest is the real problem with capitalism?

Russell makes at least two major statements in this chapter that Marxists would have difficulty accepting. First he says, "With a very moderate improvement in methods of production, it would be easy to ensure that everybody should have enough, even under capitalism, if wars and preparations for wars were abolished."

But it is not the methods of production but the relations of production, which leads to the private appropriation of socially created wealth, which is responsible for poverty. Because capitalists compete for market share the system inevitably leads to crises in overproduction, unemployment, poverty and wars resulting from attempts by the national bourgeoisie of various countries to control foreign markets. The idea of everybody having a enough under capitalism IF "wars were abolished" is not a realistic idea for a system whose internal logic leads to conflicts as a way to maintain itself and control markets.

Russell thinks the real problem of capitalism is the "uneven distribution of power." The capitalists have concentrated all the social power in their hands and ordinary people are forced to work for them "much harder and more monotonously than they ought to work...."

Since Russell rejects the labor theory of value he thinks the evils of capitalism do not arise as a result of the exploitation of labor to create surplus value and hence capitalist profits, but by the subjection of workers to the tyranny of the machine by over powerful capitalists. "It is," he writes, "this sacrifice of the individual to the machine that is the fundamental evil of the modern world."

This is the evil that Russell thinks must be addressed. He rejects Bolshevism because it one-sidedly thinks, according to him, the main evil is "inequality of wealth." But this is not what the Bolsheviks believed at all. Income inequality was a consequence of a more fundamental problem and that is the private ownership of the means of production by the capitalist class.

The problem is, for Bolshevism, how to abolish the capitalist class and institute social ownership of the means of production. Russell's belief that the evils of the modern world could be solved under capitalism, in appropriate conditions, is a fantasy from the Marxist point of view.

6. "Why Russian Communism Has Failed"

This is a premature chapter title for 1920 although it is an appropriate topic today. Russell believes that "the civilized" world will eventually adopt socialism but thinks the Russian model has failed. The reasons are the collapse of industry and a shortage of food. Because of these two factors the Communists have become unpopular and have to rule by force over a hostile population. This type of repressive government cannot institute the type of ideal socialist order that has been envisioned in Marxist theory.

Russell may have exaggerated the unpopularity of the Soviet regime while at the same time providing an explanation of some of the harsher features of the Russia of the 1930s. Russia did successfully industrialize and was able to beat back the Nazis in WW II-- but all this lay in the future. What is most interesting in this chapter is Russell's comparison of Soviet Russia with British India.

First, Soviet Russia resembles the British government in India because "it stands for civilization, for education, sanitation, and Western ideas of progress." Were the Indians dirty, uneducated and uncivilized before the British arrived? The difference seems to be that the Soviets wanted to uplift the working people of Russia and bring them into the 20th Century while the British were content to subject the Indians to colonial exploitation.

Second, the Soviet and British Indian governments were "composed in the main of honest and hardworking men, who despise those whom they govern, but believe themselves possessed of something valuable which they must communicate to the population, however little it may be desired." I agree that the British despised the Indians, there was a great deal of racism in the British attitudes towards their subject peoples, but the Bolsheviks did not "despise" the "toiling masses "they governed, only the social and economic conditions that had been forced upon them. The Bolsheviks aimed to make the Russian masses masters of their own fate while the British sought to deny the Indian masses that very mastery.

Third, both governments "represent an alien philosophy of life ." This was true of the British but not the Soviets. Even at the end of the Soviet era when an election was held regarding the future of the USSR the majority voted to maintain the Union but the majority will was brushed aside.

What does Russell think is the "ultimate source" of the "evils" he found in Russia? By having a revolution to free Russia from feudalism and to get out of W.W.I the Bolsheviks "provoked the hostility of the outside world" and then that of the peasants, and then that of the "urban and industrial population." [Yet they were popular enough to win the Civil War and to go on in 1922 to found the USSR.] But the reason for all this is "the Bolshevik outlook on life." Which is a "dogmatism of hatred" and a belief "that human nature can be completely transformed by force." These two assertions are purely products of Russell's imagination and find no support in the philosophy of the Third International or in its response to the questions of the ILP.

The Bolsheviks have arrived at this mythical outlook, Russell says, by the "cruelty of the Tsarist regime" and the "ferocity" of "the Great War." He might have added Western intervention, support of the Whites in the Civil War, and the blockade. Socialism cannot be established by people whose "mentality" is the result of these conditions. Socialism needs a mentality of "hope" not "despair." But it could be argued that it was precisely hope, hope that a better world was possible, and not despair, that has always driven the socialist movement, Bolsheviks included.

Coming up the 10th and final installment: Russell's chapter on the "Conditions for the Success of Socialism."

Monday, September 07, 2009

Joe Slovo

"I remain an unrehabilitated utopian. I believe that the human soul is quite capable of reaching a form of society in which one person does not live off the labor of another. And that kind of idea is not only that which is an expression of the basic normative values of all radicals both before and after Marx, but is that which will in the end be capable of realization. It will come about through the organization and struggle of the wretched of this Earth - the 90% or more of humanity for whom if socialism is not an answer, there is no answer at all. "-- Joe Slovo

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Thomas Riggins

Part Two of Bertrand Russell's "The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism" comprises seven chapters under the heading 'Bolshevik Theory'. Briefly the main points of each chapter:

4. "Revolution and Dictatorship"

Russell begins this chapter by telling us the Bolsheviks have a definite program, set forth by Lenin, "for achieving Communism." He says it can be found in the answers sent by the Third International to the Independent Labour Party (of which Russell was a member) in response to a questionnaire sent by the ILP. This text can be found if you google 'ILP and 3rd International': it is an excellent brief presentation of the views of the Third International in 1920 and has for that era a basically correct understanding of the balance of forces-- its greatest weakness is in over estimating the revolutionary potential of the Western proletariat.

Russell's interpretation of the response by the Third International is not satisfactory as it misrepresents the positions taken by the Bolsheviks. This is not, I think, an intentional misrepresentation, but due to the class prejudices that Russell had due to his aristocratic background and definitely non-working class educational experiences at Cambridge.

For example, he says that after a revolution the Bolsheviks "then confine political power to Communists, however small a minority they may be of the whole nation." What the Third International actually said was that political power was to be in the hands of the workers and toiling masses of the population which make up the vast majority of the whole nation and who will express their will through soviets.

Russell goes on to discuss issues not covered by the response to the questionnaire and which involve the Bolshevik's views about the end game of the Communist movement-- i.e., that "the state will no longer be required." But his end game, through correct, is so far in the future-- we are not one wit closer in 2009 than in 1920-- that it has no practical significance in present day struggles (except to keep our eyes on the prize).

Russell, however, treats this end goal as a very real and approaching possibility that the Bolsheviks are aiming for as the outcome of the world revolution and the the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Bolsheviks were of the opinion that this would be a long drawn out process and be conditioned by specific conditions in each country and area of the world. It was then and still is now.

Russell proceeds to say that there are THREE QUESTIONS to be asked with respect to the Utopian ends that the Bolsheviks are striving for. 1) Is the end "desirable in itself?" Russell says the answer is YES! The present system of capitalism is so unjust it does not deserve to continue. "I concede the Bolshevik case," Russell writes. That case still stands today, by the the way.

It is the other TWO QUESTIONS Russell has in mind that he wants to discuss. 2) Is the the ultimate end "worth the price" that, according to the Bolsheviks themselves, "will have to be paid for achieving it?" To this Russell says NO!

Here is his reasoning. Nothing human is certain and we cannot be sure that a world revolution will actually create a better society. It will entail a long drawn out fight with the United States likely ending up "the main bulwark of the capitalist system."

The world wide struggle between capitalists and communists will be a life and death battle which will make World War I ("the late war") "come to seem a mere affair of outposts." The battle will bring out men's "bestial instincts" and "the general increase of hatred and savagery." Furthermore, whatever the ideals of Communism, a social system will reflect the level of civilization of its population and the violence of the struggle to overthrow capitalism, and the violence of the capitalists, will leave behind a world so "savage, bloodthirsty and ruthless" that it "must make any system a mere engine of oppression and cruelty." Barbarism no matter who wins! I will leave it to the reader to decide how accurate Russell was in predicting the future. I will say, however, this is NOT the price, "according to the Bolsheviks themselves."

Question 3) is the "most vital." This question is: "Is the end goal of Communism consistent with the methods used by Communists to attain it ?" Russell says NO! Some group of men and women must exercise control of distribution and control the military while the struggle is going on. It will be a long struggle and this group will get use to having power and privileges. It is certainly possible that Communists having state power "will be loath to relinquish their monopoly" of control.

"It is," Russell says, "sheer nonsense to pretend that the rulers of a great empire such as Soviet Russia, when they have become accustomed to power, retain the proletarian psychology and feel that their class interest is the same as that of the ordinary workingman." In fact, Russell maintained that already in 1920 he detected that the mentality of the capitalist class was to be seen in the rulers of Russia. So Russell rejects Bolshevism because 1) the price (Barbarism) is too high to pay for the end, and 2) the end that is professed is not the real end that would result.

How accurate was Russell in making these prognostications? We are nowhere near the end game. The struggle between capitalists and the working masses is still being waged. There was a major set back to the socialist cause with the downfall of the USSR and the Eastern European socialist states. Was barbarism created in the USSR in the Stalin era? Did the Communists become similar to the "capitalists" in their psychology and alienated from "the ordinary working man" and woman? We may be too historically close to these events to answer these questions. And we know that from Korea to Afghanistan capitalism has waged and is waging savage and barbarous wars.

What we can say is that if Russell was correct to concede the point that capitalism is unjust and must be replaced then the struggle to replace with it is still a noble and worthwhile struggle. People can learn from history and the mistakes of the past do not need to be repeated in the future-- even if they often are.

Stay tuned for part 9!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The End of Card Check?

Thomas Riggins

Today’s NYT Business Section[9-5] reports that the head of the AFL-CIO says the card check provision in the EFCA legislation can be dropped: “Union Head Would Back Bill Without Card Check.”

This has been a demand of the ruling class all along. We should not forget that the monopoly capitalist ruling class gets what it wants in the long run [without a major unified fight by labor and its allies] and it looks like card check will be dropped from EFCA.

Sweeney could “live” without card check if the unions got fair and fast “snap” elections. But his replacement [as of 9/16] Richard Trumka “stopped short of endorsing fast elections.” Meanwhile the capitalist class, via the US Chamber of Commerce, is also dead set against fast or snap elections so will they win this issue as well? What are the chances of EFCA with card check now that Sweeney says it could be dropped?

Another key issue is binding arbitration when the capitalists drag their feet during contract talks. The US Chamber of Commerce is also 100% opposed to this as well. None of these provisions threaten in any way capitalist control of the US and opposition comes from the most reactionary sectors of monopoly capital. If all three measures are defeated it will signal that this sector is the dominate wing of monopoly capitalism.

Let’s hope David Bonior of America Rights at Work gets his wish and the original EFCA, despite Sweeney, passes. If it does will it be because more enlightened ruling class elements understand that the union movement is not a threat, in and of itself, to capitalist rule?

The same article reports that the Gallup Poll says only 48% of Americans approve of unions, down from 59% in 2008. What could account for these figures and such a drop in less than a year? Probably something wrong with how the poll was conducted as the Obama victory should have boosted the favorable opinion of unions.

Friday, September 04, 2009

How The Republican Right Apes Fascism

Thomas Riggins

One of the tricks of fascism is deliberate disinformation and hate mongering (usually with the hope of inciting violence) vis a vis the technique of the Big Lie. If you repeat the Big Lie long enough some people will begin to believe it. I suggest that these examples (quotes from the Republican Right, among others, are prime examples of the Big Lie at work. The context: reactions to the upcoming speech by President Obama to be broadcast to American high school students. [All quotes from the New York Times, 9-4-2009]

Jim Greer, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN, said he “was appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s SOCIALIST IDEOLOGY.” Its news to socialists that Obama, a centrist liberal Democrat, has joined the ranks of the socialists!

A guest on Rush Limbaugh’s ultra right talk show compared President Obama to Kim Jong-il and Saddam Hussein (an insult to both Kim and Obama) in trying to create a personality cult. I’ll wait until the DNC puts out “Barack, The Dear Leader” posters.

Chris Stigall, Kansas City talk show host: on keeping children home the day of the broadcast, “I wouldn’t let my next-door neighbor talk to my kid alone; I'm sure as hell not letting Barack Obama talk to him alone.” This doesn’t even make sense-- a radio broadcast isn’t talking to a kid alone!

People in Texas are especially upset, one parent attacking the broadcast by saying “I don’t want our schools turned over to some socialist movement.” The Big Lie seems to be working!