15 April 2009

Rouge Forum Update--4-14-09--from Rich

Dear Friends,

The Rouge Forum No Blood for Oil web page is updated at: http://www.richgibson.com/noblood.html

There you will also find links to the Rouge Forum Conference, May 15 to 17 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and the new Spring Issue of the Rouge Forum News, the only radical education publication in the US.

The conference schedule is linked herehttp://www.rougeforumconference.org/

Let's break this update in parts: Upcoming Action, Current Conditions, and Resources.

Upcoming Actions:
In California and some other states, we are on the brink of test season and, perhaps, boycotts. Opt out of the tests. Tell parents and kids. Walk away. Set up freedom schooling where kids can learn, again, how to learn.

March on Mayday! Mayday, the International Workers' Holiday, started well over 100 years ago but it was given new life in the US (where the government had declared it "Obedience to Law Day") three years ago when immigrant rights activists created some of the largest demonstrations in the last 30 years. This year, it is more than likely youths will pour out of schools to join the marches. We should all be on the march, and supporting kids who rightly say that marching on Mayday is more important than the testing drill and kill that goes on in school that day. Here is the Rouge Forum Flyer from last year: http://www.richgibson.com/rouge_forum/CutbackFightbackFlyer.pdf

Current Conditions:
You would never know it from the complete silence from the AFL-CIO and NEA on the reality of 650,000 layoffs in the last month, but workers all over the world are fighting back. In Greece, there was a general strike. In France, uprisings sparked by students and teachers, building seizures, bosses kidnapped. In Italy, hundreds of thousands of people marched against the right wing government.

And in Thailand Protestors Smash Rich Folks Meeting in Thailand: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/world/asia/12thai.html?hp

It is class war. An international war of the rich on the poor with the poor children of each nation fighting poor children of other nations, on behalf of the rich. The core issue of our times is rising color coded inequality vs the potential of mass class conscious resistance.

World Unemployment to Boom in 2009: ILO http://wotnews.com.au/like/ilo_predicts_dramatic_increase_in_global_unemployment_in_2009/2988035/

Here is Howard Zinn on class in America: Video: http://therealnews.com/t/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=3534

States Slash Social Programs: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/us/12deficit.html?hp, but $10.9 trillion went to the banks so far. DPS to Cut 600 and Close 23 Schools : http://www.detnews.com/article/20090409/SCHOOLS/904090410/DPS+to+cut+600++close+23+schools

The banking crisis deepens as the contradiction between accumulation and consumption sharpens, the banks interested in profits alone and the consumers unable to buy, "said Frank Pallotta, a former mortgage trader at Morgan Stanley, now a consultant to institutional investors. “If every bank was forced to sell at the market-clearing price, you’d have only five banks left in the market." http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/11/business/economy/11bank.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

New School Students Seized a Building and the Cops Attacked: http://www.newschoolinexile.com/

Gutting and Selling the US Manufacturing Base http://www.detnews.com/article/20090409/METRO08/904090411/Selling+off+America+s+manufacturing+might++a+factory+at+a+time

Quote from the end of the article: Suter was cleaning out a tool shed that might have some resale value to some yuppie who collects such things. He pulled out a bound contract from 2000 between the UAW and The Company. He read from Article V Section 1: "The Union reaffirms its adherence to the principle of a fair day's work for a fair day's pay, and agrees to use its best efforts toward this end ..." "If only everybody would have lived up to their end of the bargain," he said. And then he tossed the contract in the garbage.

How the "New Labor Movement" Would Mirror GM's Failed Structure: http://www.laboreducator.org/laborsvoice24.htm

The PIRATES! spectacle. We are being lied to again: PIRATES! http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-you-are-being-lied-to-about-pirates-1225817.html

The Obamagogue, Torture Enabler, by Ted Rall: http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22390.htm

Prove again that you are a good teacher, the New Mexico Model: http://mail.bellarmine.edu/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.freep.com/article/20090413/NEWS06/904130367/What%2Bmakes%2Ban%2Beffective%2Bteacher ?

Tomgram: Michael Klare, Boom Times for Criminal Syndicates http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175055/michael_klare_boom_times_for_criminal_syndicatesResources:

Political Economy For Beginners: http://www.richgibson.com/POLIECO.html

Meszaros on the Great Financial Crisis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAxa82-ZQQY

And a quote worth remembering: "Commerce is at a standstill, the markets are glutted, products accumulate, as multitudinous as they are unsaleable, hard cash disappears, credit vanishes, factories are closed, the mass of the workers are in want of the means of subsistence, because they have produced too much of the means of subsistence; bankruptcy follows upon bankruptcy, execution upon execution. The stagnation lasts for years; productive forces and products are wasted and destroyed wholesale, until the accumulated mass of commodities finally filter off, more or less depreciated in value, until production and exchange gradually begin to move again.

Little by little the pace quickens. It becomes a trot. The industrial trot breaks into a canter, the canter in turn grows into the headlong gallop of a perfect steeplechase of industry, commercial credit and speculation, which finally, after breakneck leaps, ends where it began--in the ditch of a crisis... The fact that the socialised organisation of production within the factory has developed so far that it has become incompatible with the anarchy of production in society... The whole mechanism of the capitalist mode of production breaks down under the pressure of the productive forces, its own creations.

It is no longer able to turn all this mass of means of production into capital. They lie fallow, and for that very reason the industrial reserve army must also lie fallow. Means of production, means of subsistence, available labourers, all the elements of production and of general wealth, are present in abundance... For in capitalistic society the means of production can only function when they have undergone a preliminary transformation into capital, into the means of exploiting human labour power."
(Frederick Engels's--- Socialism: Utopian and Scientific/ part of Anti Dühring/ New York: International Publishers, 1935, pages 64-65)

Congratulations to Fred Jerome for his new book: Einstein on Israel and Zionism: http://www.einsteinonisrael.com/homepage.html

With sadness, the death of Mark Fidrych: http://www.freep.com/article/20090413/COL08/90413076

Fun: The Fox Tea Bag Problem: http://www.dailykostv.com/w/001140/S

Song: The Internationale, for Mayday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJ8DhXgPjfg

Thanks to Amber, Joe B and the entire committee for the conference, Adam and Gina, Wayne, Perry, Figora, Donnie A., Milt R, Peter M, Steve R, Ricky C, Sue H, Penny, Dan H, Jim3, Phillip, Gordon, Natalia, Harry K, Kathy K, Jim B, Kim B, Pam R, Tony H, Tommie and Bob, and Nereyda.

All the best and good luck to us, every one.

09 April 2009

Rouge Forum Update--4-9-09--from Rich

[Check out the RF News here]

Dear Friends,

For those teaching or learning about the current depression, here are some more good sources:

*Lewis Corey's outstanding 1934 book, Decline of American Capitalism, is online free at http://www.marxists.org/archive/corey/1934/decline/index.html
*How Goldman Sachs was at the Center of the Oil Trading Fiasco that Bankrupted SemGroup: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2009/0413/096-sachs-semgroup-goldman-goose-oil.html
*The auto crisis, likely leading to the bankruptcy of GM (and the end of retiree health benefits, etc.) but this is also an indicator of the power of finance capital over industrial capital and the shift to the corporate state as US society decays: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/business/31assess.html?_r=1&hp
*Stiglitz on State Capitalism as Robbing Workers: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/01/opinion/01stiglitz.html?_r=1&th=&emc=th&pagewanted=print
*Updated interview with John Bellamy Foster: http://democracyandclassstruggle.blogspot.com/2009/03/interview-with-john-bellamy-foster-of.html
*Bello's Primer on the Meltdown: http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/bello031008.html
* The Economist on the Huge Fraud Beneath the Fiscal Crisis: Missing the Deeper Fraud; Exploited Labor. http://rawstory.com//printstory.php?story=15090
**Five Million Jobs Lost So Far This Depression http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/04/business/economy/04jobs.html

Current Developments:

*Centinela CalfiorniaTeachers Wildcat Strike http://www.dailybreeze.com/latestnews/ci_12034343
*Al Sharpton and the Ruling Class http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/archives/2009/04/pols_press_part.php
*Labor Bosses Forge Unity Committee: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/07/AR2009040703222.html

The plum here is the dues from 3.5 million education workers, members of the National Education Association who will quickly learn that they are funding yet another layer of enemies.

Criticism of "Progressive" Warmongers: The term "progressive" may have no meaning anymore. If it is Move.on, that means slavish support for the demagogue, Obama. If it is United For Peace and Justice, it means the same thing in shifty terms.

UFPJ's recent Wall Street demos, deliberately set up to counter demands from rank and filers to demonstrate on the anniversary of the war, failed completely. This is nothing to gloat about even though we said, years ago, that following UFPJ would do just this.

Still, it is tragic.

Less than 10,000 people demonstrated, down from the one million who hit the streets six years ago. But numbers are not everything. UFPJ trumped that by teaching people nothing at all important about why things are as they are, what to do in order to develop grand strategy (peace, justice, equality, freedom, etc.) or strategy (how to understand specific local circumstances and to seek out choke points where people can use powerful direct action moves) and tactics (particular actions that link these three elements).

Why would that be? Because UFPJ is run by remnants of the Communist Party USA, people who have never sought to build a mass class conscious movement and who have always fought those who try. The current Rouge Forum News has a very fine article by Tom Suber about the wreckage that UFPJ leadership is creating. http://blogs.ubc.ca/ross/2009/04/rouge-forum-news-issue-13/

Let us be clear. The core issue of our time is accelerating color coded inequality met by the potential of organized mass class conscious resistance. Neither the CP nor UFPJ want any part of that.

Here is a sampling of UFPJ's failures: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-04/04/content_11129335.htmhttp://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jPati7jbLo532dVb5D55XbX9T3bgD97B8IUG0http://uk.reuters.com/article/marketsNewsUS/idUKN0335443120090403 The task at hand is ours. The $10.9 trillion dollars the corporate state just printed for the banks and insurance companies is going to come from the lives and labor of someone. Either it will come from the ruin of hundreds of thousand of poor and working people, or, if we fight back, it can come from the rich. Let them suffer and pay, as they should. The degree of the pain will be determined by the levels of our real resistance in schools, in communities, at work places, and in the military. When they say Cut Back; We should say Fight Back.

This is a critique from Antiwar.com: Progressive Warmongers: http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2009/04/07/progressive-warmongers/

We note with sadness the death of a friend, Janet Jagan http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/30/janet-jagan-guyana-america-marxist

Thanks to Joe and Charles B., Steve and all the sharp eyes who caught the misspelled word in the last update (argh), Adam, Gina, Greg and Katie, Wayne, Sandra, Colin, Josh and M, Suber (s), the Sally's, Penny and Rick, Doug and Connie, Betty, Joe C, Susan O and H, Ginny H, Jim S, Ricky C., Chris, Carol Panetta, Sharon A, David, Donnie A, the Breedloves, and the entire RF Steering Committee and folks working on the upcoming conference. http://www.rougeforumconference.org/

All the best and good luck to us, every one.

07 April 2009

The Rouge Forum News -- Issue 13 -- spring, 2009


The Rouge Forum News is back. Check out our restart issue, #13, here.

Download a PDF version of the Rouge Forum News (#13), here.

Issue #14 will collect the wide range of papers from the Rouge Forum Conference in Ypsilanti at Eastern Michigan University, May 14-17: www.rougeforumconference.org. Join us there if you can!

Stay tuned for the call for papers for Issue #15.

In the meantime, enjoy the latest issue. And, as always, we would welcome your feedback.

03 April 2009

Rouge Forum Update--3-29-09--from Rich

Dear Friends,

A reminder of the outstanding Rouge Forum Conference, Education, Empire, Economy and Ethics at the Crossroads, May 15 to 17, in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at Eastern Michigan U. http://www.rougeforumconference.org/

This is the only education-based conference in North America that will seriously take up questions of economic collapse, perpetual war, and the booming rise of inequality and irrationalism--and what to do. Keynote speaker, Staughton Lynd, will address the question at hand: What is to be done?

A blast from the past sets up our current condition: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery." Dickens speaking for Micawber in David Copperfield. The Obamagogue: "But one of the most important lessons to learn from this crisis is that our economy only works if we recognize that we're all in this together, that we all have responsibilities to each other and to our country." March 24 2009.

Let us be clear: The Education Agenda is a War Agenda and agenda to mask class war, a war of the rich on the poor which the rich clearly recognize and the poor do not---yet. The most important less is we are NOT all in this together. The core issue of our times is the accelerated rise of color-coded inequality met by the potential of mass class conscious resistance. The promise of perpetual war is every bit as real as it was with Bush. The same bankers who produced this very real economic crisis, collapse, are the bankers of the Obama regime. His transparent demagoguery has not worn out yet, but it may soon as the wars are lost and the economy spins into either deflationary chaos or the almost equally ruinous alternative: rampant inflation. Here we see firms using bailout money to bribe the political class: http://www.newsweek.com/id/190363

Is it hard for liberals to hold up their notion of democracy inside what is now clearly a capitalist democracy, the former overwhelming the latter, while the near seamless merger of the corporations and banks with the political class is finalized? No it is not. Why? Rolling Stone on "The Wall Street Revolution" : http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/26793903/the_big_takeover/7

George Soros Sees No Bottom to World Financial Collapse http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE51K0A920090221

Quotes From the Great Depression--note the parallels http://bigpicture.typepad.com/writing/2009/03/great-depression-quotes-1929-vs-2008-1.html

Here are two pieces on what can happen if class conscious resistance does not begin to materialize:
*Fights break out at auto dealership as jobs are lost: http://www.freep.com/article/20090328/BUSINESS06/90328025/Fights+break+out+as+auto+dealership+closes *Preparing for Civilian Unrest In America: Michel Chossudovsky http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12793

On the upside, resistance and red flags are flying in France: Academic and student anger grows; The nation's universities continued to be disrupted by strikes and protests against proposed teacher training reforms last week, while university presidents called for a year's delay in introducing the changes to allow time for reflection and consultation. http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20090320100214606

On the downside, because of grotesque misleadership from groups like United For Peace and Justice, the potential of a million people in the streets in the US six years ago opposing the wars, only 5-10,000 turned up on the anniversary this year: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/21/AR2009032101368.html?hpid=moreheadlines

Could sanity be peeping up in this mire of crises in the US ? Some districts are limiting homework: http://www.latimes.com/news/education/la-me-homework22-2009mar22,0,5760396.story?track=rss

Wayne Ross and I have a piece under consideration at Z Mag: The Education Agenda is a War Agenda: http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/20965http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-obama-border25-2009mar25,0,761284.story

Is it not odd that DHS is going right into Mexico? "Through "strategic redeployments," the Department of Homeland Security plans to send more than 360 officers and agents to the border and into Mexico, Napolitano said. Costs across the board, totaling up to $184 million, will be revenue neutral, funded by realigning from less urgent activities, fund balances, and, in some cases, reprogramming, she said. "And is it not odd that troops are going to be sent to the US side of border areas to do police work???????

Two sources to add to John Bellamy Foster's current book, "The Great Financial Crisis," are classics: Dunayevskaya: Outline of Marx's Capital: http://www.marxists.org/archive/dunayevskaya/works/1979/outline-capital/index.htm This is a terrific teaching tool.

Lewis Corey's (aka Louis Fraina) book, "The Decline of American Capitalism," written in 1932, arranges an understanding of the present collapse in notable, prescient, detail. Only a very few reasonably priced books are left in print.

The Rouge Forum Blog is up and you are welcome to join it. http://therougeforum.blogspot.com/

And in hopes that this week we can leave 'em laughing: South Park on the Economy: http://www.southparkstudios.com/episodes/220760

SNL: Don't Buy Stuff You Can't Afford??!! http://consumerist.com/consumer/clips/snl-skit-dont-buy-stuff-you-cant-afford-252491.php

A modern, roaring, version of L'Internationale: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rx7A3UYKXj4

Thanks to Susan, Perry, Steve, Wayne, Amber, Doug S, Joe B, Kenny, Sherry, Matt, Victoria, Joe C, Adam and Gina, Bob, Victoria, Tommie, Michael, David, Sharon A., Della, Barbara, Faith, Denny, Jim B, Kim B, Gil, Ernesto, Angel, Jackie, Ann, Candy, GF, Peter, Ricky, Steve, Dennis, Kirk, TC, Bob S, John and Mary, Mary and Paul, and to adjuncts everywhere.

Good luck to us, every one.


(more news on those Seattle teachers who resisted testing their students next week)

01 April 2009

Finance oligarchy captures US government; US government preps for civil unrest

[Cross-posted from Where the Blog Has No Name]

The conventional wisdom, to this point, has been that current economic crisis cannot be as bad as The Great Depression. Conventional wisdom is apparently changing.

Last week, renowned investor George Soros said the world financial system has effectively disintegrated, adding that there is yet no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis.

Soros believes the current economic crisis has created more severe turbulence than the Great Depression and former Fed chairman Paul Volker, speaking at the same conference at Columbia University, agrees: "I don't remember any time, maybe even in the Great Depression, when things went down quite so fast, quite so uniformly around the world," Volcker said.

Referring to events in Septmeber 2008, when Lehman Brothers went under, Soros said, "We witnessed the collapse of the financial system. It was placed on life support, and it's still on life support. There's no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom."

The bailout money is being abused in a number of ways, all of which recycle bailout cash back to corporate elites and the political class:

* Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has criticize AIG, not for using bailout cash to give huge bonuses to its executives, but for repaying, in full, its investment banking partners—steering additional federal dollars to Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase and others when they already were already being propped up by Washington.

* And, Newsweek reports that filings with the Federal Election Commission reveal that the political action committees of five big TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) recipients doled out $85,300 to members of Congress in the first two months of this year—with most of the cash going to those who serves on committees who oversee the TARP program. For example,

"Bank of America (which got $15 billion in bailout money) sent out $24,500 in the first two months of 2009, including $1,500 to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and another $15,000 to members of the House and Senate banking panels. Citigroup ($25 billion) dished out $29,620, including $2,500 to House GOP Whip Eric Cantor, who also got $10,000 from UBS which, while not a TARP recipient, got $5 billion in bailout funds as an AIG "counterparty."

But Spitzer and Newsweek are talking small potatoes compared to the Simon Johnson's assessment of the current economic crisis. In "The Quite Coup" (The Atlantic, March 2009), Johnson, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, says that that the finance industry has "effectively captured our government" not through violence or bribes (Abramoff and K Street notwithstanding), but

Instead, the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital—a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. The banking-and-securities industry has become one of the top contributors to political campaigns, but at the peak of its influence, it did not have to buy favors the way, for example, the tobacco companies or military contractors might have to. Instead, it benefited from the fact that Washington insiders already believed that large financial institutions and free-flowing capital markets were crucial to America’s position in the world.

What we have is an ideological coup. The government quite clearly acting as the executive committee of the rich. Johnson explains why we have been been denied the pleasure of of seeing fat cats jumping out of Wall Street skyscrapers—the financial oligarchy remains in control, blocking essential reforms and continuing to push us toward the Greatest Depression.

Johnson's article is the most clearly reasoned, knowledgeable, and accessible piece I've read on root causes of the current crisis and he presents a "tried and true" strategy for solving it too—IMF shock therapy. He likens the U.S. economic and financial crisis to what has been seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets) like South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again).

In each of those cases, global investors, afraid that the country or its financial sector wouldn’t be able to pay off mountainous debt, suddenly stopped lending. And in each case, that fear became self-fulfilling, as banks that couldn’t roll over their debt did, in fact, become unable to pay. This is precisely what drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy on September 15, causing all sources of funding to the U.S. financial sector to dry up overnight. Just as in emerging-market crises, the weakness in the banking system has quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy, causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people.

The financiers who created the crisis with the able assistance of Wall Street alumni in government (particularly ex-Goldman Sachs executives who have been ensconced at the Treasury Department for multiple administrations) are now, according to Johnson, "using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them." Well, the financiers are the government.

For Johnson the two major, interrelated problems are the banking sector "that threatens to choke off any incipient recovery that the fiscal stimulus might generate" and "a political balance of power that gives the financial sector a veto over public policy, even as that sector loses popular support." On the former, he suggests the IMF's nationalization approach. On the latter, Johnson suggests replacing our current elites, with a new batch. Hmm.

While Johnson's analysis is compelling, his solutions, unsurprisingly, aren't—two scenarios: IMF approach solves the problem or catastrophic global depression smartens up the elites).

Meanwhile the US government moves forward to on plans to use the military to control civil unrest as a result of the collapsing economy, as legislation to establish internment camps on US military bases has been introduced into the House of Representatives.

Doesn't look to me like the finance oligarchy is planning to step down any time soon.