Monday, April 11, 2011

“We are in five wars right now--Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and class war.”

I know I said there would be a second piece on Haiti, and believe me its in the works, but I wanted to briefly comment on two events I attended this week and make some observations about what I think are larger trends.
The first was the Frances Fox Piven and Cornel West initiated national Fight-Back Teach-In Against Manufactured, Austerity, Debt and Corporate. While the majority of its speakers are people I would generally associate with more liberal social-democratic wing of the American left that while holding ideas certainly left-of-center while refusing to challenge the Democratic Party I was pleasantly surprised on this note. Cornel West, who had criticized Obama as a “friendly face for empire” to a thunderous applause at Left Forum just shy few weeks earlier and called Obama a “puppet” on RT did not sigh away from criticizing the Democratic Party. More surprising though, was Jeffery Sachs, responsible for the devastating neoliberal shock therapy imposed on former Soviet bloc countries, denunciation of both parties as being beholden to “corportocracy.” 
Most disappointing though was the absence of linking the austerity, debt, and corporate to the the ongoing wars. Yes, Cornel West mentioned imperialism, but Piven herself noted near the end the complete absence of the military-industrial complex from her “tree of corporate destruction,” though she promised next time it would have an entire branch.
April 9 Antiwar Rally Union Square
One event that did not shy away from criticizing the Democrats, as well as linking militarism to the manufactured austerity we know face was the April 9 anti-war rally at Union Square. While I remember when antiwar rallies used to draw 100,000s to the streets of Washington DC (which was not the Vietnam era, but just a few years ago when Bush was President) and Democratic politicians addressed the crowd promising to end the war (which worked out marvelously) this was one of the larger rallies in recent years (thousands) and by far one of the more radical. Nearly every speaker both made the connection between the current calls for austerity and the war, as well criticizing the Democratic and Republican Parties as being one in the same when it came to US Foreign policy. And unlike the Fightback Teach-In, they didn’t lay the blame at a few indivuals (Glenn Beck or the Koch Brothers) or corporate persons (Newscorp), but rather rooted the issues in systemic problems of capitalism itself.
As one speaker said, “We are in five wars right now--Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and class war.” While I was disappointed she neglected Yemen, which the US has been bombing since 2002, her overall point was well taken.
We’re being told that we don’t have money for social services that benefit the least among us and that we need “austerity,” but we have money for foreign wars of aggressions. Let’s not forget that war is big business in the United States. Public money is being transferred to private corporations who profit from destruction. As one sign pointed out, the cost of one cruise missile fired in Libya could pay for ten teachers in New York.
The wars and massive military spending should be viewed in the same light as the bank bailouts, tax bailouts, and corporate welfare--as all our projects undertaken to benefit the few at the expense of the many. And all of them amount to class warfare.

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