High Time to Boycott Elections

How long shall we allow the system to kick us in the head, take our money, insult us after taking our money, and still expect us to participate in its frauds? With every passing year, the differences between the two ruling political parties in the U.S. diminish further, and their outlook, conduct and even advertising campaigns merge so much so that their members can be mistaken one for the other.

By now it must be clear that the ‘two-party’ system is not only no such thing; it is corrupt to the bone.

It should be instructive to recount some major points of Obama’s record:

Barack Obama has voted for all the war funding bills that have gone through the Congress; Obama has voted for USA PATRIOT ACT that effectively suspended habeas corpus, and he voted for the FISA bill that gave free reign to government to spy on all Americans; his Democratic Party has gone along with policies allowing torture, and we have not heard a single word out of candidate Obama regarding the evils of torturing people; had it not been for the Supreme Court rulings, the Democrats would not have been the ones to come to the defense of habeas corpus, this oldest of legal protections granted to human beings against arbitrary government harassment, and neither have we heard anything from Obama, although he is reported to be a constitutional lawyer; it was with the energetic pushing and shoving of the Democratic presidential nominee, Barak Obama, that the theft of people’s money was given legal cover in the recent $700 billion bailout of the banking industry (the actual figures are much higher).

Moreover, as pertains to how the American imperial machinations work beyond the American borders, Obama, or at least his rhetoric, is every bit as dangerous and bloodthirsty as McCain’s. He was one of the first people to advocate publicly (and on campaign trail, which is even more telling) that Pakistani sovereignty be disregarded and indeed violated completely if, with regards to the ‘war on terror’, the Pakistani government ‘can’t do the job’. He is a strong advocate of increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan and to intensify the bloodletting in that country, in a war of occupation every bit as barbaric and immoral as that in Iraq. As regards the war of occupation in Iraq, Obama has never said he will end the occupation; in his stated policy, he will leave a substantial number of troops in Iraq to ‘fight the terrorists’ and protect the embassy, ‘aid workers’, etc., which is to say he too will leave substantial troops in Iraq, into an indefinite future. Finally, as regards the ongoing, brutal subjugation of the Palestinian people, the theft of their lands, water and resources under one of the most barbaric contemporary colonial ventures, he is every bit a slave to the Israeli lobby and government.

If all these were not enough, we are now witnessing the defection of ‘moderate’ (the lesser of the bigger evil) Republicans onto the bandwagon of this able champion of empire; not just any Republican (for example, Ron Paul), but the likes of the war criminal Colin Powell, whose UN speech in February 2003 — while holding up some supposedly evidential glass vial, with the CIA chief, Tenet, and the hated Negroponte right behind him — is now remembered only too painfully by the world that continues to pay in blood, tears and humiliation for the crimes of the American empire.

His running mate’s resume is even darker, but we need not go there.

Despite all this, a good section of the American left is still agonizing over whether or not to vote for this ‘lesser’ evil! Luminaries as large as Chomsky and Zinn, The Nation magazine, and even the Communist Party USA, as they did in the 2004 presidential elections, are again raising the specter of the ‘necessity’ of voting, albeit with noses well held, for Obama. Some qualify this support with: “But, don’t have any illusions!” Anybody who supports, even qualified twenty-fold, the notion of voting for an imperial (hence criminal) Democratic Party candidate is already filled with illusions.

What on earth is the point of voting at all when the two evils under consideration do not present much noticeable degree of difference in their dispositions? Such recommendations coming from the ‘left’ are stunningly amusing if it weren’t so infuriating to hear such talk always certified with tons of qualifications, which in turn make the recommendations not just absurd but insane.

A nice sample of such was posted on Dissident Voice (“Taking Politics Seriously“). The authors, Robert Jensen and Pat Youngblood, after stating that they would be voting for Obama, proceed to acknowledge all the horrible qualities of Obama the candidate, leaving the reader to wonder why then they are voting for him! And the answer is simple: it is a vote against McCain. Basically, they argue that the Obama-Biden ticket is less scary than McCain-Palin. Obama’s own qualities do not make him a very desirable candidate to be supported by the left, but since the left must by all means necessary defeat the crazy far right, then by simplistic syllogism they conclude that the left must vote for Obama.

The other point they make is that a vote for Obama is a slap in the face of racism. To think that one is fighting racism while voting for a candidate that upholds every racist element of the structures of imperialism is to venture into political oblivion.

Such arguments can only come from people who do nothing whatsoever to change the really existing political life of the U.S. in between presidential elections. But, of course, every four years they must express some political recommendation of sorts, and out of desperate frustration, due to seeing the political field as only what the system presents (i.e., due to the fact that they do not act as subjective agencies), they can only decide which system-provided choice is less harmful. This is the gist of their dilemma.

So long as the left in the U.S. does not create its own independent institutions, so long as there is no institutional alternative that can channel people’s grievances, and so long as there is no political party representing the working classes along a socialist outlook, the current balance of forces will continue to work increasingly against the working people and those interested in a more just society, and no matter how learned we might be, we will end up supporting the ‘lesser’ of the two evil parties dominating the people; in other words, supporting the imperial system.

What to do then? For starters, a good half of the eligible voters have been conducting a de facto boycott of the presidential elections, since they instinctively and correctly realize that the two ruling parties do not represent them. So, why not join them?

The only thing that can transform ‘apathy’ into an actual political force is to recognize that a boycott of the elections must be done loudly and with the purpose of announcing to the non-voting public that another way must be sought and created to bring about political change. This other way must engage them, the non-voting population, in a serious effort to build a real party of opposition.

This, in turn, requires a genuine opposition party-building effort. The Populists in the 19th century did not agonize over whether or not to vote for the lesser evils of their days. They built their own party. Granted, by the end of the 19th century, the Democrats had pretty much swallowed them whole, by adopting key elements of their platform reflecting their social demands, while watering them down, and blunting their force. But, the organizing spirit of the Populists is something to learn from. The lesson: Build your own party! Oppose both ruling parties consistently.

Within the context of building a real opposition party, then, a boycott as a tactical move makes good political sense. It would bring coherence and political direction to energies not wasted in the electoral fraud (yet sitting still), not burned in the electoral game presented by the system as an opiate (to paraphrase Max Kantar).

In my opinion, at this point, the tiny benefits of getting the independent candidates, such as McKinney or Nader, enough votes to bring them Federal dollars and a place on the presidential debates in the next election, is simply not worth the participation in the fraud created by this machinery of deception called ‘voting’, which in turn only helps feed the illusion that there is strong democracy in America.

The American people are fed this lie every four years that their voices can make a difference. Really? It didn’t make a jot of difference in 2006, when people, out of pure illusion, voted into the Congress a majority of Democrats with the hope that they would bring the war of occupation in Iraq to a speedy end. As George Carlin would have said, people might as well have wished on a rabbit’s foot!

It didn’t make any difference when a huge majority of the American people kept yelling down the jammed Congressional telephone lines, and over-stuffed Congressional email inboxes with, “Don’t give my money away to those scum sucking swine!” The people’s ‘representatives’ stole people’s money anyway and handed it over to the banksters in broad daylight!

So, to repeat, what’s the point of voting for these people? Except getting demoralized, such behavior has no other effect.

If people such as Chomsky and Zinn had spent the last thirty years of their lives, using their immense authority and influence, building truly oppositional parties, maybe for the past two presidential elections they wouldn’t have to recommend voting for such a corrupt bunch of people and instead could recommend voting for a truly oppositional party that really channeled people’s grievances, with some (even if symbolic) presence in the legislature.

The irony of it all is that Mr. Chomsky has built himself a reputation (at least he used to talk about this in his lectures and interviews) for not telling people what they should do, since, according to him, such is not desirable in his anarchist belief system. Yet, in the last two presidential elections, he has chosen to recommend supporting one of the major (and arguably the most successful) pillars of American imperialism!

Whence the contradictions? These contradictions come from the material conditions of lack of political alternatives, which, fret not, can be built starting now.

So, instead of wringing our hands over whether or not to vote for an evil, which is only a tiny bit less so, let us recognize the necessity of building a truly oppositional party. The first step in that direction is a loud boycott of these elections with an even louder declaration that voting is bunk until real political alternatives representing people’s needs are built. Don’t waste your vote, and don’t encourage the bastards. Invest your time vociferously boycotting the voting farce, and build an oppositional socialist party.

Reza Fiyouzat can be reached at: rfiyouzat@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Reza, or visit Reza's website.

25 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Max Shields said on October 28th, 2008 at 8:19am #

    Connecticut has a Green running in each district for US Congressional Rep. Don’t think another State has managed this feat, yet.

    Local first, build a coalition with Labor and independent progressives. Build a real alternative.

    In Connecticut you can vote Green and for Nader. In some municipalities there are Green State Rep candidates. Local City Council needs to change the composition of our cities and towns.

    We can turn this country Green (and I mean as a coalition progressive force) even as the duopoly plays their exclusionary narrative games.

    Don’t waste your vote by voting for evil. Let it be known that there are large blocks of voters that are rejecting the two corporate candidates.

    If there is a fear of voting fraud, it is that these numbers will be suppressed by the corporate parties and media.

  2. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 28th, 2008 at 8:53am #

    to me, it’s best or lot better to vote for nader. fraud in counting votes is always a possiblity.
    nader had not said to date, as far as know, that some of the votes for him might be stolen.
    regardless, let’s reward him at least for working so hard for working class. never mind results. it may take decades to make nader’s party a factor in US politics. thnx

  3. spinnikerca said on October 28th, 2008 at 9:02am #

    Sorry. In California a write in for Ron Paul will be counted, and I’m voting for him. I’m not voting for the lesser of evil. I’m voting for the purist statesman on issues that matter to me that I have seen stick to his principles in my lifetime. Next time I’ll consider your idea.

  4. mamaowl said on October 28th, 2008 at 9:21am #

    You do have more things to vote on then the president, like bond measures or local elections…so it’s a good reason to vote and really, you might as well vote third party. Vote down your ballot for third party or independent, skipping if you want, like if you feel there is no option. These votes will show up in numbers, people will just not perceive non-voting as a boycott, they’ll just think it’s apathy at best and a tacit approval of either side of the two party system at best.

  5. Max Shields said on October 28th, 2008 at 10:36am #

    bob, yes, not only to reward Nader but to demonstrate that politics as usual is being severly challenged.

    The point of “suppressing” the Nader results is that the two parties rule, and their game is to marginalize, even patronize so-called minor-parties/candidates.

  6. corylus said on October 28th, 2008 at 11:37am #

    Reza,
    I think I understand a lot of what you’ve written, and I share most of your misgivings. But you haven’t done much more than to point out the illogic of voting for Obama instead of McCain, so I think you should honestly reassess your title and theme for this essay — you haven’t made a very strong case for “not voting.” You’ve cast a boycott of voting as the only way to protest the corrupt electoral system and to move forward in building social alternatives, but in doing so, you’ve focused a lot more on bashing Obama and McCain and the duopoly (nobly, of course) instead of focusing on how to build an “alternative” democratic institution that would replace the corrupt political-voting-electoral system run by the fascists in politics and boardrooms. You’ve repeated your question of “…what’s the point of voting for these people…” when I don’t think too many of us reading here are at all content with the lack of choice, but you haven’t done anything to offer an alternative short of saying that voting is “participation” in a fraud. Well, I agree with that, but I’m also aware that in the next 7 days we aren’t likely to build a new democratically based political institution that places the needs of people over that of capitalism and profits.

    I can even agree that voting within a system is playing the game with the rules thrust upon us, rules established to maintain the status quo. But does voting for someone like Nader or McKinney necessarily represent support for the system? These alternative choices (and others) have been completely marginalized from participating in the “game,” and if you ask most Americans, voting for them is a waste — alas, I contend that many of these short-sighted voters have forsaken their values for the illusion of change. Certainly neither can be elected when most voters prefer to choose to continue the international nightmare that is American government and its foreign and domestic policies. In that regard, I think that voting for either Ralph or Cynthia is a visible protest against the machinations of imperialist America. Do you not think that either would support a complete re-vamping of our campaign and electoral system, as well as other means to promote democratic reform? Voting for one or the other may be participation in the fraud that is American politics (and culture), but that doesn’t preclude working to expose and eliminate the fraud and to fulfill a completely alternative vision as well.

    I could be wrong, but having already voted, I want to believe that I’ve delivered some small note of protest that is aimed at disintegrating the two-party stranglehold on American politics. I absolutely refuse to support a candidate that bears the “standard” (whatever that means) of either major party ever again (I made that mistake once too often, in 1992). While I agree my voting will not promote the real change that’s needed (a revolution, preferably non-violent), voting does not preclude my activism on many other fronts. As fractured and beaten up as the “left” (I hesitate to use any word here, because I’m lost on what any of the traditionally used descriptors mean anymore) appears to be, the real challenge is galvanizing the multitude of perspectives and values about how to move forward towards true democracy in spite of the overwhelming forces of institutional power, bolstered by the capitulation to fear and general inertia exhibited by most voters. I wish you’d offer more thoughts about how to do that instead of harping on the obvious deceits of the mainstream parties.

    Just for starters: an economic boycott, a tax boycott, a fossil fuel boycott, a media boycott, (what about some girlcotts?)….

    Peace, thanks to all who really care about these matters and who share thoughts.
    Corylus

  7. June said on October 28th, 2008 at 11:40am #

    Boycotting the election only concedes the election to the duopoly ruling party. I’ll personally be voting for Bob Barr but I think the most important thing to do is vote for some third party candidate. This is the only kind of boycott that can be counted. Not voting can always be written off as apathy and will not inspire the ruling party to change anything.

  8. RockTheVote said on October 28th, 2008 at 12:12pm #

    You can make your point better by intelligently lobbying for election reform between major elections–otherwise you become another part of the problem…complacency.

    http://www.newshounds.us/

  9. Max Shields said on October 28th, 2008 at 12:45pm #

    corylus, I agree with what you’ve written, and am following a similar path of reasoning for similar reasons.

    Building a new instititution is a tricky matter. I want Ralph (or Cynthia) to get the most votes possible – as huge as we can muster. I want the protest – in terms of voting – to be loud and unequivocal.

    But our problems are truly systemic, and confronting the power structure will not change it. The power structure will do whatever it takes to survive and if that means mimicing or coopting it will do it, just so long as it never becomes the change (to do so would be to turnover its power).

    Language does fail us. To use words like “movement” or “progressive” or “leftist” or “transformation” seems to be reaching for a lexicon which has yet to prove itself adequate to the challenge of the kind of change we deeply need and yet has seemed allusive. It has only been a very short while that this empire has existed, but has existed all of our lives; and therefore it is all we really know of the world – vis a vis the rest of the world. Imagining a new world which is not based on this one is extremely difficult – dare I say impossible.

    It could be concluded that while we should make our choices, raise our voices in protest, vote for Nader, by god, or McKinney! knowing there is no simple roadmap to where we want to go. We can play with the pieces before us but they seem to limit us to a reconfiguration of what we have.

    A collapse, fresh new beginning? Perhaps….

  10. gliscameria said on October 28th, 2008 at 3:17pm #

    This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read on this site.

  11. AahBach said on October 28th, 2008 at 4:02pm #

    At this point, our vote is all we have. The mainstream candidates would only be too happy if you were to “protest” by not voting. It says absolutely nothing. We send a stronger message by voting for anyone but the “two” main parties. My vote goes to Nader, but I’d also applaud anyone voting for Cynthia, Bob, Ron or any 3rd party candidate, and I’d welcome disagreements and dinner table arguments with such people, because I’d know they’ve voted with their conscience.

  12. Giorgio said on October 28th, 2008 at 5:56pm #

    High Time to Boycott Elections?
    Then join Ron Paul’s http://www.campaignforliberty.com !!!!
    There is in it now an interesting Lew Rockwell interview with Ron Paul.
    And also a video talk by Ed Griffin titled ” The Creature from Jekyll Island” on the Federal Reserve Bank which was to me an eye-opener. It’s well worth the time spent listening to it. It shows quite clearly how these Machiavellian banksters plotted and succeeded to make the US Congress approve the creation of the Bank. To me this was the greatest and deepest stab in the back on the gullible American people, EVER !
    It lies at the heart of the wars, economic disasters that followed and now we are again on the brink of plunging into another HELL. I didn’t sleep for hours after this. Then, and only then, I realised the full impact and the sinister meaning of Mayer Rothschild’s famous statement:

    GIVE ME CONTROL of a Nation’s Money Supply and
    I CARE NOT who makes its LAWS !

    Finally, this excerpt from an article titled ” The History of the House of Rothschild” by Bradford Smith makes these banksters’ devilish schemes abundantly clear:

    In 1811, The charter for the Rothschilds Bank of the United States runs out and Congress votes against its renewal. At the time Andrew Jackson (who would become the 7th President of the United States from 1829 to 1837) says, “If Congress has a right under the Constitution to issue paper money, it was given them to use by themselves, not to be delegated to individuals or corporations.”

    Nathan Mayer Rothschild is not amused and he stated, “Either the application for renewal of the charter is granted, or the United States will find itself involved in a most disastrous war.”

    Andrew Jackson’s response to this is to say, “You are a den of thieves vipers, and I intend to rout you out, and by the Eternal God, I will rout you out.”

    Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s reply to that being, “Teach those impudent Americans a lesson. Bring them back to colonial status.”

    1812: Backed by Rothschild money, the British declare war on the United States. The Rothschilds plan was to cause the United States to build up such a debt in fighting this war that they would have to surrender to the Rothschilds and allow the charter for the Rothschild owned Bank of the United States to be renewed.

    NOW, if this is not a real eye-opener to the
    PRESENT WORLD FINANCIAL and WAR CRISIS…..
    YOU tell me, dear DV readers, what is ???!!!

  13. Tree said on October 28th, 2008 at 5:59pm #

    What makes me angry are the people who have said they will vote for Obama as the lesser of two evils, yet are angry with me when I express support for Nader, as if I am betraying the country.
    I’m not sure I’ll vote at all–it’s all so corrupt, but what if all these people would not compromise and sell out their vote and vote for who is best for the job?
    AahBach, I am definitely leaning towards your view at this point.

  14. Giorgio said on October 28th, 2008 at 7:18pm #

    Tree,
    The election is just an event that will be done and finished with by 9th November, and the winner will be either of the two Evils: Obama or McCain. PERIOD!
    Whether you vote Nader, McKenney, Barr or boycott it, IT JUST MAKES NO DIFFERENCE to the final result !

    As for “who is best for the job?” Don’t worry! Any DumbAss like Bush is good for the job! The PUPPETEERS prefer it that way and there is nothing you can do about it…..THIS SIMPLE ! Capito?

    As

  15. reza said on October 28th, 2008 at 10:46pm #

    If this rejoinder seems contradictory to some (all?), it is because we face very contradictory times. But, for what it’s worth, here’s my two cents’ worth:

    I respect anybody voting for Nader, McKinney, etc., as a way of registering their opposition to the ‘two party’ monopoly. I have in fact written articles recommending that, IF you think by voting you can bring change, then vote for independent candidates as a way of registering your support for people who are actually addressing our problems (instead of obfuscating), and as a way of getting a real tally of how many people actually oppose the establishment candidates.

    The point I’m making in this article is different. The point here is that regardless of the outcome of the elections (which will be the continuation of the current corruptions), we need to look past the election hoopla and think how to build a long-term strategy for a real movement for fundamental change. This MUST include addressing those who DO NOT vote.

    People who do not vote are not participating for very good reasons. However, in the absence of a loud boycott, their non-participation gets interpreted as ‘conceding’ or ‘apathy’. My point here is that, NO, this is not apathy. In fact it makes perfect logical sense, and it is far more honest than participating in fraudulent elections that only re-produce illusions about the existence of democracy and so buttress the system.

    I come from the so-called Third World, in which boycotting elections is actually a powerful tool at the disposal of the masses. Imran Khan’s party (Insaf) in Pakistan, for example, boycotted the last elections there, and it was an organized message sent to the establishment that the rulers would not get a stamp of approval from the real opposition. This, far from re-creating ‘apathy’ or ‘conceding’ the elections, actually makes governments in the Third World very nervous. In Iran, you are required to take your birth certificate when you vote, so they can stamp it, so they can see who has not participated, so they can do onto you what they will, should you have to deal with the authorities at some point.

    So, boycott is actually a very powerful tool, because it actually gives political voice to those who refuse to participate. Simply sitting at home and not announcing that you are boycotting is a different matter. Boycott is a political move, with a long-term vision in mind.

    Sorry for the long-windedness! Love to all!
    Reza

  16. .dll said on October 28th, 2008 at 11:42pm #

    Well,

    The general lack of participation in US elections over the years has only had the effect of giving a minority the appearance of a majority AND A FALSE CLOAK OF LEGITIMACY.

    Yeah I hold my nose about Obama, but if enough people get out and vote him in, then next time they will vote him out if he does not perform.

    A boycott is futile, however the suggestions above to build up the alternatives are excellent and I have advocated them since 2000, when Gore caved. They have only become more appealing after watching the weakness of Kerry, Pelosi and others since then.

    Win, lose or draw, Obama got people out of the house and flexing their political muscle. Pandora’s Box is open now and I hope it is the beginning of a new era of American civic participation.

  17. Rich Griffin said on October 29th, 2008 at 9:04am #

    Boycotting corporate media makes much more sense, because if enough of us do it we can shut them down since many media outlets have low margins these days. Voting for anything other than the two major parties is certainly worth doing. I’ve been working hard on two ballot initiatives and I will be voting for them (well, NO on 1, and YES on 3!).

    I personally think we need a new progressive party. I will work towards that goal.

  18. Andy said on October 29th, 2008 at 9:06am #

    Boycotting is the sane option. How low, as a percentage of the total pop of the USA, would the turnout have to be before the whole thing is declared an utter farce and dissolved until actual issues are addressed? Or the system is overhauled to allow other parties a fair chance.

    Less than half of all eligible voters is already pretty sh*t. One big push could sort it out.

    If a certain section of society without heath care withheld certain ‘bailout funds’, they could put healthcare on the agenda pretty quickly too. They could do it even quicker with the support of liberals, if liberals weren’t busy tactical voting. I’m a Brit, we did it to the Poll Tax. Ah, small mercies.

  19. Joan Malerich said on October 29th, 2008 at 4:10pm #

    Reza Fiyouzat makes very good points in her article regarding Boycotting the Elections. Many of these are same points I have been making for the last four years. Bravo to Fiyouzat for writing this piece and for DV for publishing it.

    However, I disagree with Reza’s Fizouzat solution. Fiyouzat states: “The only thing that can transform ‘apathy’ into an actual political force is to recognize that a boycott of the elections must be done loudly and with the purpose of announcing to the non-voting public that another way must be sought and created to bring about political change. This other way must engage them, the non-voting population, in a serious effort to build a real party of opposition.”

    It is NOT another political party we need. Even Fiyouzat notes: “The Populists in the 19th century did not agonize over whether or not to vote for the lesser evils of their days. They built their own party. Granted, by the end of the 19th century, the Democrats had pretty much swallowed them whole,…”

    WHY would Fiyouzat think that a new socialist based party not be gobbled up by the moneyed interests and/or corrupted and/or compromised in this imperialist system? This is a major flaw in her logic. We already have at least 20 parties with the word and/or idea of socialist, Green, communist, progressive, liberation. If all of these parties would unify instead of competing against one another, then then we would have the basic human rights (universal single-payer health care, housing for all, food and clean water for all, living-wage jobs for all, free education through college) that all of these 20 plus parties appear to want.

    WHAT IS NEEDED is NOT another political party. What is needed is a unified MOVEMENT. Before this can happen, the public must be educated about the terrorist history of US terrorism at home and abroad.

    Instead of wasting time, money and energy on the campaigning and the elections themselves, I suggest transferring that time, money and energy to the following actions (Only a partial list ):

    1. Forming small (limited to 10)Youth Anti-Imperialism Groups in homes.
    (a)The first part of these groups would focus on FACTS re US terrorism. I suggest using William Blum’s Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since WW II. Allow the participants to pick their 2-3 countries each (each chapter being a country). Ask each youth to look for things such as: US/CIA infiltration into youth groups, women’s groups, labor groups, media, elections (US demands multi-party elections in other countries so the US can support the candidate who supports US ideology). This is an excellent way of learning that the tactics and strategy of the US against third-world countries are the SAME tactics (including elections) and strategy the US is using against the People of the US to turn the US into another third-world under the global economic umbrella. Of course, there is one problem: The US adults must first educate themselves about this terrorism and the tactics the US uses. Some rules are essential: (1) No support for any political party (2) No prayer allowed in the sessions, though always support one’s right to practice one’s religion in his/her personal life outside these sessions (3) No infiltrators allowed–the more you read about infiltrators (esp. in Killing Hope), the easier it is to recognize infiltrators. (4) No opinions allowed that are not based on FACTS and critical analysis.
    (b) The second part of these groups would be to study the US Constitution to learn how to change/rewrite it. Cannot change what one does not understand. One can learn that universal health care, living wage jogs, housing for all, free education through college (KEY), environmental integrity, food and clean water for all can be written right into the Constitution. Other constitutions, such as the Bolivarian and Cuban Constitutions could be introduced and compared and contrasted to the US Constitution
    (c) The third part would be discussing and learning about strategy. I suggest books such as (1) Mumia Abu Jamal’s book, We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party to learn what it takes to make a powerful movement and what it takes to take down a powerful MOVEMENT –esp. the role of infiltrators.(2) Aldabonazo: Inside the Cuban Revolutionary Underground 1952-59 by Armando Hart. This book shows what it takes to make a powerful MOVEMENT and what it takes to keep it in motion. (3) The Art of War by by Sun-Tzu. This book helps one to think in terms of strategy (tactics, of course will differ).

    If these sessions are held as described above, youth leaders, who are EDUCATED with facts, understanding strategy and knowing how to implement it, will develop. These leaders will be able to start their own sessions and this is how the movement will start and grow.

    2. Creating real grassroots media in the manner of the Black Panther Paper–sold on the streets where one can look another in the eye and learn more about what others are thinking. KEEP this OFF the Internet and e-mails. The Internet and e-mail are needed and excellent forms of education; but, they lack the human contact needed to form a movement. Quoting Mumia: The internet, while pervasive in its reach, diminishes, rather than enhances social contact. One never really knows who is the recipient of a communication. Moreover, the internet is interlaced with snoops of the ubiquitous State, sniffing for any hint of rebellion as demonstrated by Project Echelon. …” (page 248 of We Want Freedom)

    3. Start Food reserves and temporary shelters for the families of striking workers. Not only does this provide a necessary need, but it starts to unify the people around the ideology of helping others, of cooperation, of sharing. If workers knew their families would be provided food and shelter, they would be much more likely to form a sustained and powerful strike or other radical (going to the root) actions.

    Mumia states in his wonderful book, We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party, that the final nail in the coffin (paraphrasing) was when the Huey Neuton commanded that all of the many parties offices across the country close down and go to Oakland to support Bobby Seale for mayor.

    The simple FACT is there cannot be a viable party until their are leaders–those who are intelligent, compassionate, passionate, inspiring, experienced, understand strategy and know how to use it and are willing to die for justice (not by being violent themselves but by being willing to accept they might well be killed by the state supported terrorists). At this point, the only one of whom I am aware who has all of the characteristics required of a leader is Mumia Abu Jamal, known as the Voice of the Voiceless. Mumia was targeted because the powers that be realized he was a leader. There is NO DOUBT, esp. with all the new evidence, that Mumia did NOT shot Officer Fulkner. The US progressives have allowed Mumia to rot on death row (though he has refused to rot and has written Five books from death row, many articles, commentaries on prison radio etc.) for 26 years. Mumia’s future is very much in jeopardy right now, as his attorney, Robert Bryan, appeals to the US Supreme Court. And, I truly feel that if the “progressives” cannot free Mumia, they cannot free themselves from the ravages of imperialism that are hell-bent on destroying the masses of humanity. If we cannot free Mumia, we cannot break out of this whole electoral moneyed interest fraud that must be boycotted–not one more ounce of energy, not one more minute of time, not one more $$$ can be thrown at the political parties in existence today.

    Socialism or Nothing! (meaning if we do not turn away form competition and toward cooperation and if we do not turn away from individualism and toward society/humanity, then there will be NOTING left of this world to save.
    Joan Malerich
    St. Paul, MN

  20. Sunil Sharma said on October 29th, 2008 at 8:01pm #

    Hi Joan: Just to clarify, Reza is a he, not she.

    – Sunil

  21. Joan Malerich said on October 29th, 2008 at 11:20pm #

    Yes, thank you. I realized my mistake re calling Reza a she right after I sent it out. This was a very sad mistake on my part. Please accept my apology. Joan

  22. reza said on October 30th, 2008 at 12:42am #

    Joan,
    No problem. Many who don’t know about Middle Eastern names make the same innocent mistake. Plus, I am at ease with my feminine side!

    As to your points re building a MOVEMENT and not a party … I agree to a great degree. Indeed, in my belief, the two go hand in hand. Without a movement, a party will inevitably become a player in the current corruptions. But, just as importantly, without building a party structure, a movement can fizzle out without being able to do any structural damage to the imperial structures of American imperialism.

    Item: the great movements of the sixties and early seventies. In solidarity with the Vietnamese people, the anti-war movement in the U.S. forced the American gov to back down (Caveat: the brunt of this was done by the Vietnamese, and not the American anti-war movement). But, even here, as history has shown, it must be emphasized that since the anti-war movement did not have a political structure (party) to CONTINUE the fight after the withdrawal of the U.S. forces, a short time after, other wars of aggression resumed (against the Sandinistas, against the Haitians, the Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan). And today, even the ‘movement’ is something to be built again. Imperialists maintain their continuity, but the opposition is interrupted easily again and again, since it lacks independent political structures. A party/organization is the link between the people and the political sphere. In a world dominated by class warfare, a political party is a MUST, if the true opposition is serious about fundamental change.

    Now, it is true that a lot of parties already exist. My point is not so much the creation of a new party, but of A party, which can be built by uniting all the disparate left forces who see the only solution as socialism. That is the way forward. In building a movement/party, we must understand (to use an out of fashion word) the dialectics between these two aspects which a true liberation requires.

    Finally, I agree: Socialism or nothing! We’ve already seen way too much of barbarism. Socialism is the only way out of this hell.

  23. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 30th, 2008 at 5:27am #

    US may be compared w. any other country. its movements may also be compared w. movements for change in other countries.
    but first, let us collate all salient facts that pertain to change on econo-politico-military level in every country where change for better had been wrought by a movement.
    i’l just compare US to cuba. it wld take ours to deal w. all examples where change occurred.
    cuba in the ’50 was a poor country. its govt was corrupt and weak.
    and it wasn’t the movement that ousted papa doc, but an armed org. headed by a communist/socialist party.
    movements in US are not led by parties but by ad hoc groups; thus w.o. head, chicken runs around for a while and then dies.
    in US, as in cuba, there is a oneparty system. in fact, u’l find a dem to the right of hitler and a rep left of franco; and vice versa.
    the grip on econo-military-political power in US is very strong; no other land approaches it.
    and had been achieved (by 2000) w.o. any or very little oppression; precisely because of utter plutocratic control of US govts and, more importantly, US GOVERNANCE.
    one cld go on. but i’l end w. conclusions: i do not know how to loosen plutocratic grip on US politics.
    i suggest education may help. starting a second party and building it, is a better way to go.
    u have now a second party. which may wrest a few pennies from plutocrats and do less warfare. thnx

  24. Joan Malerich said on October 31st, 2008 at 3:47pm #

    Reply to Reza Fiyouzat and Bozhidar Bbol Balkas responsesto my former comments re article about boycotting the elections.

    Reza, thank you for your comments. Regarding a movement, I think the most important thing is to develop a different way of thinking –a socialist way of thinking. And, I agree with Chavez that socialism will be implemented differently in different countries and that the economics of a country will largely influence the method of implementation. In relation to the sixties movement, I think this movement failed partially because it was based on “civil rights,” as promoted by King and not by “human rights” nor a liberation movement as promoted by Malcolm X. In my opinion, until ALL have the human rights of health care, free education through college, decent food and clean water, living-wage jobs, housing for all and environmental integrity, they do not have the opportunity to voice their civil right of free speech with any significant voice. Of the human rights I mentioned, the most important is free education through college, as it is that “right” that allows the talent of the society to develop into the medical doctors/medical professionals, teachers, scientists, technicians, communication experts, construction/engineer experts, social scientists etc. Fidel, as well as the other Cuban Revolutionary leaders, understood this. As Fidel has said, one cannot reach his potential if one is not educated; and, one can work to one’s potential if one does not have health.

    King’s Beyond Vietnam speech is promoted as King’s turning point where he turned more toward human rights. And, that is partially true. But, King still showed his anti-socialist way of thinking when he commented:

    ” This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and, through their misguided passions, urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not engage in a negative anticommunism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity, and injustice, which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

    My comment in regard to MLK’s above statement: If any statement could show MLK’s lack of insight and/or understanding of communism/socialism, this it it! Read it over and over. Note the rich dark irony: MLK is unwittingly admitting that communism grows and develops because it serves the people by wiping out the conditions of poverty. Yet, he does not want a socialist system. He wants only what he defines as “democracy.” He plans to use this “democracy” to wipe out the system that is inhumanely attacking the poor. The one thing this system cannot be is communist. Rather he wants to defend against communism. William Blum starts off the first introduction to his Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Intervention Since WW II with a very thought-provoking quote by Michael Parenti: “Our fear that communism might someday take over most of the world blinds us to the fact that anti-communism already has.”

    Reza and Bonzhidar Bob, regarding the Cuban Revolution, the Cuban Revolution IS the July 26th Movement. Fidel did not allow any political party to make the decisions when fighting the Revolution. Only those in the July 26th Movement (some of whom did belong to a political party, at least in the beginning) could make the decisions. At the time the Revolution was being fought, the Communist party itself was in a state of disarray. It lacked unity. Fidel realized then and NOW the importance of unity. The Cuban Revolution would not been kept in motion for these 50 years without the unity of the overwhelming number of People and the government. It could NEVER have survived the “Special Period,” the time after the SU fell and Cuba lost 85 percent of its trade overnight–to which the US responded by strengthening the blockade to a strangulation point. Even, in these desperate times, Cuba refused to give up the two main prongs of the Revolution: Its universal health care system and its free education through college.

    In fact, it was during the “Special Period” (1998) that Cuba opened up the Latin American School of Medicine to educate free students from Latin America, especially Central American. Cuba learned first hand about the lack of health care, when Cuba sent its own doctors to Central American after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America. Cuba has often played the role of the poor player helping those even poorer. This was especially exemplified by Cuba’s humanitarian and military aid to Angola in their fight against the South African Apartheid. The first place Mandela went when released from prison was to Cuba to thank Cuba for the extraordinary solidarity Cuba showed, for the over 2000 Cubans who died fighting for real liberation of another country’s people (without asking for one penny nor taking anything back from Africa other than their dead, wounded, African orphans and youth to study free in Cuba), for the ever-present humanitarian aid of Cuba. (It is unfortunate that Mandela turned to the IMF and imperialism in restructuring South Africa–but that is another story.)

    When the Cuban Revolution was won, the People did not want elections, as they learned all too well what elections were all about–money and power. Yet, elections did start. And, as stated by Arnold August (Masters in Political Science in 1970 from McGill University, Montreal. He has worked for a research institute, specializing in constitutional and electoral issues and has written articles for the Canadian press on these subjects) in an article, “Letter to Bush and Cheney re Cuban Elections,” May 2008, http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs1958.html.

    “One of they most important (changes) was the 1975 public debate on the new Constitution. Six million people participated and brought about changes in 60 articles. In 1976, the Constitution was put to a formal, secret ballot universal suffrage vote in which 98 percent of the voters participated. 97.7 percent voted in favor of the new Constitution..”

    Voting is not mandatory in Cuba. The municipal elections, the foundation of the system, are the most beautiful example of elections any where in the world.

    The most important thing to realize regarding Cuba’s electoral system is that the Communist Party is NOT allowed to nominate candidates in the municipal, provincial and National Assembly of People’s Power (NAPP) elections. Fidel (or any other president) must be elected to the NAPP before the Council can nominate and elect him (or another) to be President. Fidel was always overwhelmingly elected by the People to the NAPP. Municipal delegates can make up to 50% of the NAPP, normally the they make up about 47%. The simple fact is that most Americans do not want to accept is that Fidel was (and remains) respected by the overwhelming majority of Cubans. We, unfortunately, hear only from or about the the very small minority, most of whom do not think as socialists but as capitalists.

    One thing I can guarantee 100 percent is that if Fidel or any other leader went before the People and said he/she was going to take down the universal health care system and or the free education through college, the People would take to the streets in masses until that leader was removed. Yet, here in the US the People have no influence over the government’s drive to privatize health care and education.

    For an excellent explanation of the Cuban system of governance purchase or have your library stock ISSAC SANEY’S beautiful book CUBA: A REVOLUTION IN MOTION.
    In addition to the chapter on governance, there are chapters on history of Cuba, Cuba’s legal system, Race, Inequality and Revolution, the US and Cuba and “Lessons and Footprints.” In addition, Arnold August (see above) has written two in depth books on Cuba’s electoral system–not from afar but by observing for months in Cuba.

    So, yes, both Cuba and the US (Republicrat) have a one-party system. But, what must be kept in mind is: (1) In Cuba’s system the Party represents society (socialism) and in the US system the Republicrat Party represents capital (capitalism). And, in the Cuban system the Party cannot nominate candidates at the grassroots and very effective levels: the municipal, provincial and NAPP. (2) The US moneyed interest government could not exist without the pretense of “elections” in a “multi-party system. The reason the US demands multi-party elections in third-world countries is so it can fund the candidate who is most in agreement with the imperialist thinking.

    Reza, you stated: “A political party is a must if the true opposition is serious about fundamental change.” I partially agree. First, the Revolution must be fought (not a violent revolution, but a revolution based on social programs for ALL–not just that indomitable “middle-class.) This takes UNITY. We cannot have UNITY without socialist-thinking leadership. We cannot have leadership without education, especially political education for the youth–which cannot and will not take place in the schools, in the churches, nor the non-profits. I do have a plan for this education. Let me know if you want to know more about it (moc.esuohpinull@mdmnaoj). I truly believe that if we cannot free Mumia Abu Jamal, who is a true leader, we cannot expect to free ourselves. Why would any potential leaders risk everything only to be forgotten by the “progressives.” Never forget it was the People who protested and had Fidel freed after serving less than two years of the 15 years he was given. Never forget that the People never forgot Chavez when he was in prison and the People bravely marched in the streets to bring back Chavez after the 2002 coup.

  25. Abby said on June 15th, 2009 at 7:23am #

    Did Gm deserve the bailout? You Ask me I would say NO.. why? When Honda and Toyota were out inventing new cars, GM was busy boasting about its pride and Showing off its hungry hungry Daughter the Hummer