Monday, May 01, 2006

Signs of the Economic Apocalypse, 5-1-06

From Signs of the Times, 5-1-06:

Gold closed at 651.60 dollars an ounce on Friday, up 2.1% from $638.50 the Friday before. The dollar closed at 0.7915 euros, down 2.4% from 0.8103 at the end of the previous week. That put the euro at $1.2634, compared to $1.2341 a week earlier. Gold in euros would be 525.75 euros an ounce, up 1.6% from 517.38 for the week. Oil closed at 71.88 dollars a barrel, down 4.5% from $75.12. Oil in euros would be 56.89 a barrel, down 7.0% from 60.87 at the end of the previous week. The gold/oil ratio closed at 9.07, up 6.7% from 8.50 the week before. In the U.S. stock market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 11,367.14, up 0.2% from 11,347.45 at the previous Friday’s close. The NASDAQ closed at 2,322.57, down 0.9% from 2,342.86. In U.S. interest rates, the yield on the ten-year U.S. Treasury note closed at 5.05%, up four basis points from 5.01 the week before.

The currency and commodity markets, driven by fears of cataclysmic war and criminally insane leadership, seem to be increasing the pressure on the Bush administration. The open squabbling at the highest levels over blame for the Iraq fiasco, the plummeting of Bush’s approval ratings and the looming indictment of Karl Rove, taken together with the sharp rise of gold and oil and the drop in the dollar suggest a coming crisis point. One gets the sense that the political and economic tectonic plates are shifting beneath us and that a sort of earthquake in the world power structure is imminent. More and more people are realizing, even in the United States, that the U.S. can no longer be considered a “superpower:”
Wars, Debt and Outsourcing
The World is Uniting Against the Bush Imperium
By Paul Craig Roberts
April 25, 2006

Is the United States a superpower? I think not. Consider these facts:

The financial position of the US has declined dramatically. The US is heavily indebted, both government and consumers. The US trade deficit both in absolute size and as a percentage of GDP is unprecedented, reaching more than $800 billion in 2005 and accumulating to $4.5 trillion since 1990. With US job growth falling behind population growth and with no growth in consumer real incomes, the US economy is driven by expanding consumer debt. Saving rates are low or negative.

The federal budget is deep in the red, adding to America's dependency on debt. The US cannot even go to war unless foreigners are willing to finance it.
Our biggest bankers are China and Japan, both of whom could cause the US serious financial problems if they wished. A country whose financial affairs are in the hands of foreigners is not a superpower.

The US is heavily dependent on imports for manufactured goods, including advanced technology products. In 2005 US dependency (in dollar amounts) on imported manufactured goods was twice as large as US dependency on imported oil. In the 21st century the US has experienced a rapid increase in dependency on imports of advanced technology products. A country dependent on foreigners for manufactures and advanced technology products is not a superpower.

Because of jobs offshoring and illegal immigration, US consumers create jobs for foreigners, not for Americans. Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs reports document the loss of manufacturing jobs and the inability of the US economy to create jobs in categories other than domestic "hands on" services. According to a March 2006 report from the Center for Immigration Studies, most of these jobs are going to immigrants: "Between March 2000 and March 2005 only 9 percent of the net increase in jobs for adults (18 to 64) went to natives. This is striking because natives accounted for 61 percent of the net increase in the overall size of the 18 to 64 year old population."

A country that cannot create jobs for its native born population is not a superpower.

In an interview in the April 17 Manufacturing & Technology News, former TCI and Global Crossing CEO Leo Hindery said that the incentives of globalization have disconnected US corporations from US interests. "No economy," Hindery said, "can survive the offshoring of both manufacturing and services concurrently. In fact, no society can even take excessive offshoring of manufacturing alone." According to Hindery, offshoring serves the short-term interests of shareholders and executive pay at the long-term expense of US economic strength.

Hindery notes that in 1981 the Business Roundtable defined its constituency as employees, shareholders, community, customers, and the nation." Today the constituency is quarterly earnings. A country whose business class has no sense of the nation is not a superpower.

By launching a war of aggression on the basis of lies and fabricated "intelligence," the Bush regime violated the Nuremberg standard established by the US and international law. Extensive civilian casualties and infrastructure destruction in Iraq, along with the torture of detainees in concentration camps and an ever-changing excuse for the war have destroyed the soft power and moral leadership that provided the diplomatic foundation for America's superpower status. A country that is no longer respected or trusted and which promises yet more war isolates itself from cooperation from the rest of the world. An isolated country is not a superpower.

A country that fears small, distant countries to such an extent that it utilizes military in place of diplomatic means is not a superpower. The entire world knows that the US is not a superpower when its entire available military force is tied down by a small lightly armed insurgency drawn from a Sunni population of a mere 5 million people.

Neoconservatives think the US is a superpower because of its military weapons and nuclear missiles. However, as the Iraqi resistance has demonstrated, America's superior military firepower is not enough to prevail in fourth generation warfare. The Bush regime has reached this conclusion itself, which is why it increasing speaks of attacking Iran with nuclear weapons.

The US is the only country to have used nuclear weapons against an opponent. If six decades after nuking Japan the US again resorts to the use of nuclear weapons, it will establish itself as a pariah, war criminal state under the control of insane people. Any sympathy that might still exist for the US would immediately disappear, and the world would unite against America.

A country against which the world is united is not a superpower.

The disconnect between corporate leadership and society that Roberts noted is also reflected in market data. In all this mess, stocks are holding steady (at least in dollar terms), consumer spending remains strong, the economic growth rate and employment numbers (propped up, no doubt, by massive deficit military spending) are high enough to give the illusion of economic normalcy in the United States, at least among the elites. Among the general public, though, polls clearly show that people don’t believe the happy talk about the economy, no matter how much they are spending and working at the moment. According to the blogger Billmon, reasons for this are easy to find:

Why People Think the Economy Sucks

Many conservatives profess to be puzzled by the fact that many Americans don't appreciate the wonderful economic boom we're enjoying, now that the Cheney administration has led us into the supply side utopia.

And it's true, they don't:

Four in 10 – 40 percent – say Bush is doing a good job with the economy, down eight percentage points in a month.

The latest spike in sour feelings can probably be traced to the return, in many parts of the country, of $3-a-gallon gas. But economic sentiment has been unusually negative throughout this recovery – at least when compared to past relationships between consumer confidence and GDP growth, or confidence and the unemployment rate. Even now, with the unemployment rate below 5%, consumer confidence is still about where it was when the last recession officiially ended. Why?
My explanation for our current era of bad feelings is pretty straightforward.

This is what used to be known as the class struggle. It was quite popular back in the day. It could even make a comeback if something isn't done to bring the trends shown above back into better balance. I have no quarrel with corporate profits, particularly if I get to keep some of them, but a situation in which all the benefits of productivity growth flow to capital, and none to labor, not only defies the standard economic textbooks, but probably isn't politically sustainable for long – at least, not without some help from guys like General Pinochet.

Why is this happening? New technologies, skill shortages, outsourcing, downsizing, the decline and fall of the union movement, changing social norms and expectations – or as John Snow might put it, learning to "trust the marketplace." Any of the above, all of the above.

It's sobering to think that what we've seen so far may be just the beginning of our journey back to the good old days of the Robber Barons. The economic effects of integrating China and India into the global labor market – what Laura Tyson describes as the mother of all supply-side shocks – could take decades to play out. And by the time they're done, there's likely to be a host of other low-wage countries lined up outside the factory gates. What Marx called the reserve army of the unemployed has never looked so huge.

Given the current power structure and the elite consensus that globalization can't be stopped, or even slowed, the solution isn't obvious, at least not to me. The New Deal is dead; the New New Deal hasn't been invented yet. But the political effects are easy enough to see. The immigration debate has been saturated by them.

Nativists and racists we will have with us always, but you have to wonder whether the issue would be half as hot right now if middle America was getting a bigger slice of the pie – maybe even with a little whipped cream on top. The millions of undocumented workers who are the current focus of our national angst (and in Michele Malkin's case, our national hysteria) are, at least in part, proxies for the billions of workers back where they came from – the invisible people who tuck the little inspection slips in the box with our Chinese-made DVD players, who sit in call centers in Bangalore and take our hotel reservations, or who debug our software code in Singapore.

…This isn't going to end well, but like I said, I don't know of any viable solutions – other than to encourage the creation of price bubbles in the assets most widely held by the American middle class. It may be a quick fix, but it works. The popular mood no doubt would be even less enthusiastic about the current "boom" if it weren't for this:

But bubbles by their nature are self-limiting, and this one may not last much longer, as even some supply siders are beginning to admit. When it deflates, the corporate conservatives are going to have a job on their hands staving off the kind of populist revolt that would make the rest of the world begin to doubt America's commitment to the global economic order America has created. And if that happens . . . well, even John Snow – the $112 million dollar man – may start to have his doubts about trusting the marketplace.

The ruling elite in the United States is clearly beginning to feel pressure from below and from abroad. The rest of the world, increasingly, may not mourn the end of the “global economic order America has created” as much as Billmon, especially if that economic order requires frequent unprovoked attacks on other countries. If a critical point is reached where the elite in the rest of the world completely lose confidence in the United States, they can do what investors and central banks have always done when a less-developed country’s currency starts to look weak: head for the exits. The following article suggests that it is happening already:

The threat to a fistful of petrodollars
By Liam Halligan

From Russia, you might say, with love. This weekend, Alexei Kudrin, Russia's finance minister, dropped a bombshell in Washington.

Attending the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Kudrin caused his American hosts discomfort by openly questioning the dollar's pre-eminence as the world's "absolute" reserve currency.

The greenback's recent volatility and the yawning US trade deficit, "are definitely causing concern with regard to its reserve currency status," he said. "The international community can hardly be satisfied with this instability."

Kudrin's intervention coincided with another meeting, also in Washington, of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven - which doesn't include Russia.

Top of the agenda: the effect of ever-rising oil prices on inflation and interest rates.

G7 countries are worried the spiraling price of crude - which closed at $72.79 a barrel on Friday and which has now trebled in three years - could inflict real economic damage. The US Federal Reserve, in particular, has been forced to take drastic action - raising interest rates 15 times since June 2004 to keep inflation in check.

Given that fragility, it is significant that Kudrin is now wondering aloud if the long-standing dollar hegemony can last. For him to do so is to highlight that America is vulnerable should that status be lost. That's because Russia, with its awesome oil and gas reserves, could kick-start a challenge to the dollar's supremacy.

Most nations stockpile their foreign exchange holdings in dollars. The US currency accounts for more than two thirds of all central bank reserves worldwide.

This reserve status means that the dollar is constantly in demand, whatever the underlying strength of the US economy.

And now, with massive trade and budget deficits to finance, America is increasingly reliant on that status. The unprecedented weight of US liabilities means a threat to the dollar's dominance could result in a currency collapse, plunging the world's largest economy into recession.

That won't happen immediately. The dollar has sat astride the globe for some time now - in fact, for most of the last century. But this statement from Russia - a country of growing financial and strategic significance - still caused the dollar to slide. It also fuelled speculation that central banks could increasingly diversify their holdings away from dollars.

Kudrin's statement followed news that Sweden has cut its dollar holdings, from 37 per cent of central bank reserves to 20 per cent, with the euro's share rising to 50 per cent. Central banks in some Gulf states have also lately mooted a shift into the euro. Such sentiments helped push the dollar to a seven-month low against the single currency last week.

But Russia's intervention will have raised eyebrows in Washington because the backbone of the dollar's reserve currency status - the main guarantee that status continues -is the fact that oil is traded in dollars. And that is something the likes of Kudrin can directly affect.

For historic reasons, the dollar remains the world's "petrocurrency" - the only currency for the settlement of oil contracts on world markets. That makes the EU and Russia dependent on it. But with central banks switching to euros, the logical next step would be for fuel-exporting countries to start quoting oil prices in euros too.

The EU is Russia's main trading partner. More than two thirds of Russia's oil and gas is exported to the EU. That makes Russia a strong candidate to become the first major oil exporter to start trading in euros. Such a scenario, in recent years, has become theoretically possible. But now, with these latest comments, Kudrin has thrust that possibility into the open.

The G7 meeting was dominated, of course, by concern over Iran's nuclear programme. The threat of military action against Iran, itself a major crude exporter, is one reason oil prices are now testing record highs.

It is worth noting that Tehran has ongoing plans to set up an oil trading exchange to compete with New York's NYMEX and with London's International Petroleum Exchange. In the light of Kudrin's comments, it is significant that the Iranians want to run their oil bourse in euros, not dollars.

Were the Iranians to establish a Middle-East based euro-only oil exchange, the dollar's unique petrocurrency status could unravel. That, in turn, would threaten its broader dominance - which, given America's groaning twin deficit, could seriously hurt the US economy.

Some cite this as the real reason the US wants to attack Iran: to protect the dollar's unique position. I wouldn't go that far, but the prospect of a non-dollar oil exchange in Tehran is certainly an aggravating factor.

The opening of Iran's new oil exchange has recently been delayed. But, having spoken with numerous officials in Tehran, and western consultants who've been working with the Iranians for several years, I think it will go ahead. The exchange entity has already been legally incorporated in Iran and a site purchased to house administrative and regulatory staff.

The reality is that as long as most of Opec's oil - read Saudi Arabia - is priced in dollars, the US currency will retain its hegemony. But the opening of an oil bourse in Tehran, which now looks likely, will signal at least tacit Saudi consent for euro-based oil trading. The US knows this, which is why it is nervous about the dollar's status being questioned.

From the G7's fringe, Kudrin has now touched this raw nerve. This weekend's meetings have been dominated by questions of global financial imbalance - in particular, America's huge deficits.

Kudrin's missive comes as central bankers, and currency dealers, start to conclude the only way to resolve the massive US external deficit is a somewhat weaker US currency. As the IMF itself warned yesterday, a "substantial" dollar decline may be needed.

One way to bring that about would be for the euro to enter the global oil trading system. This is unlikely to happen soon. It might not happen at all. But the idea is now not only realistic but firmly on the table in Washington. Perhaps not with love, but it was placed there by the Russians.

Is there any hope for the United States and for the world, where both rich and poor suffer, in completely different ways, from capitalism, a system of pure rationality of means and irrationality of ends? Can there be a rebalancing, a new view of work and labor based on empathy, not on an exploitative, means-to-an-end view of workers? Perhaps it was a mistake, early on in capitalism, to separate economics from moral philosophy. Can there be a political economics balanced by an open emotional center? It may be that John Kenneth Galbraith chose a good time to pass away, since the moment appears ripe for such a reappraisal, one which would have made sense to him, and his passing may stimulate such a discussion. And, today is May Day, not only a celebration of spring in the northern hemisphere but also Workers Day and Socialism Day, except in the United States, which moved its workers’ holiday to September, at harvest time. Labor became a crop to be harvested, not a source of growth and creativity.

Here is the historian Peter Linebaugh writing about May Day and a heart-based political economy in Counterpunch:
A Strike, a Boycott, a Holiday, a Refusal
May Day with Heart
April 29 / 30, 2006

By Peter Linebaugh

The moon and hours have revolved again, dear hearts, and May Day is upon us. Spring has sprung as usual, though a strike, a boycott, a holiday, a refusal--call it what you will--looms hopefully on Monday morrow, and that is unusual. We'll wear white in solidarity with the immigrant worker against rampant criminalization, against the universal miserablism, the broken levees, the constant enclosures, great walls, razor-wired borders, burning frontiers, and the castrametation of the planet by the USA (as the Romans called the science of military base construction).

I asked Massimo De Angelis, a family man, who went up to Gleneagles last year to protest against the G-8, what to say on May Day. He replied, as is his wont, as if he were a hobgoblin sitting on a mushroom. He likes the mushroom because it is nocturnal, it may cause dreams, and many of the fungi are not yet privatized. As for the hobgoblin it is a country figure of tricks and mischief against the masters. Plus, I know he likes Helen MacFarlane's translation of The Communist Manifesto, "A frightful hobgoblin stalks throughout Europe."

"Well," the hobgoblin said to me, says he, "whatever you say, say it with heart."

Very well, but James Green, the splendid labor historian, says that after the terrible events in Chicago beginning on May Day 1886, Americans suffered "a loss of heart." The labor historian tells us we have lost precisely what the hobgoblin asks us to find.

How are we to resolve this dilemma? This year the answer must come from the South. Eduardo Galeano, the historian from Uruguay, reminds us of a simple etymology, that the word "record" as in the record of the past, derives from Latin, to pass again through the heart ("cordis").

We cannot avoid the ache of history; its grief we feel in the gut. In preparation for the May Day general strike (will it be general?) by the undocumented workers we organize our banners (and May poles?), prepare our slogans (open borders, troops home, no enclosures, health care for all), hopefully many will try their hand at a manifesto, and we alert our lawyer friends to prepare defense for the inevitable victims. It is also essential to study our past, and to learn about our May Day. We must study the record. It must pass through our heart again.

So, we take off the classics from the shelf, or make sure our local library has them at hand Martin Duberman's fine novel on Haymarket, Roediger and Rosemont's timeless scrapbook, the late Paul Avrich stirring monograph, or the old CP classic on May Day by Philip Foner. To these we now add James Green's just published Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America (Pantheon Books, 2006). Go get it! We need it for Monday and every May Day thereafter. The book is trying to put some freedom back into history telling us that it could have been otherwise. We call this human agency. The theory is something like this. It's human history, we're humans, history is something we make with our deeds and words. This is where free-will rubs up against determinism. As soon as you put class into the theory it begins to make sense: the ruling class is determined to exploit us, so naturally it says that it can't help it - the steam hammer is stronger than John Henry, you can't stand in the way of progress, and so on. That's the determinism. On the other hand, the working-class will be free. We are not cogs in a wheel; we have not forgotten the good old wooden shoe. We do have choices. We will (for instance) wear a white t-shirt on May Day. Human agency thus resolves itself into the struggle between the classes.

It never took any multicultural brilliance to discern that the actual fundaments of the USA are threefold:

a) it was robbed from the indigenous peoples,

b) its swamps were drained, forests felled, and fields prepared by African slaves, or

c) that the railroads, factories, mills, and mines were built and run by immigrants from Europe and Asia.

The ruling class from Madison on forward knew its duty to keep these three, if not fighting one another, then separated. Thus, radical reconstruction came to an end in 1877 in New Orleans beginning that period of Afro-American history called "the Nadir"; the plains Indians were destroyed in 1877 taking the death of Crazy Horse for a symbol of the destruction, and the third, in a word, death at Haymarket.

The Cuban poet, José Martí, lived in exile in New York at the time and wrote brilliantly on the Haymarket martyrs. Although "the disagreements and rivalries of the races already arguing about supremacy in this part of the continent, might have stood in the way of the immediate formation of a formidable labor party with identical methods and purposes, the common denominator of pain has accelerated the concerted action of all who suffer." Here is heart as a political principle.

…What happened in 1886? The context was this. The imperialists had divided up Africa the year before. "accumulating mansions and factories on the one hand, and wretched masses of people on the other," is how Martí painted the background. Otherwise, the founding of the American Federation of Labor by the cigar maker Samuel Gompers, riots in Seattle against Chinese laborers, the capture of Geronimo, the gold rush to Witwatersrand in South Africa, Gottlieb Daimler perfected the internal combustion engine, Das Kapital was published in English, the French Impressionist pointillist canvas Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is displayed and was designed to erase thoroughly the visual memories of the Paris Commune and la semaine sanglante.

Despite boom and bust of the trade cycle, despite unemployment, union workers "began to anticipate their own emancipation from the endless workday and growing tyranny of wage labor." The Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor, they called themselves, mystical and with a moral code of chivalry and generous manhood. The motto of the Knights was One for All, and All for One." From squalor they proposed nobility. An 1877 circular read,

"Working men of Chicago! Have you no rights? No ambition? No Manhood? Will you remain disunited while your masters rob you of your rights and the fruits of your labor? For the sake of our wives and children and our own self-respect, LET US WAIT NO LONGER! ORGANIZE AT ONCE!"

The freight handlers struck, the upholsterers struck, the lumber shovers went on strike. 400 seamstresses left work in joyous mood. A storm of strikes swept Chicago, on the First of May 1886. The great refusal, Jim Green calls it. It was a new kind of labor movement that "pulled in immigrants and common laborers." Irish, Bohemian, German, French, Czech, Scots, English, to name a few. Socialist Sunday Schools, brass bands, choirs, little theatres,' saloons there was a working-class culture in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune (6 May 1886) hated it and compared the immigrants to zoological nightmares. It demanded deportation of "ungrateful hyenas" or "slavic wolves" and "wild beasts" and the Bohemian women who "acted like tigresses."

In the spring of 1886 strikes appeared everywhere in industrial centers; called the Great Upheaval agitating for shorter hours. Of course they were against mechanization of labor, against the exploitation of child labor, opposed to the convict lease system of labor, and opposed to contract labor. The anthem of the Knights of Labor was the "Eight-Hour Song,"

We want to feel the sunshine; We want to smell the flowers; We're sure God has willed it. And we mean to have eight hours.

We're summoning our forces from Shipyard, shop and mill; Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, Eight hours for what we will.

Sam Fielden joined the International Working People's Association in 1884 after fifteen years hauling stone and digging ditches. His father was a Lancashire handloom weaver and a ten-hour man. Sam was a Methodist.

Thanksgiving Day of 1884 they had a poor people's march and Parsons quoted from James (the brother of Jesus?) chapter five,

"Next a word to you who have great possessions. Weep and wail over the miserable fate descending on you. Your riches have rotted; your fine clothes are moth-eaten; your silver and gold have rusted away, and the very rust will be evidence against you and consume your flesh like fire. You have piled up wealth in an age that is near its close. The wages you never paid to the men who mowed your fields are loud against you, and the outcry of the reapers has reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived on earth in wanton luxury, fattening yourselves like cattle and the day for slaughter has come. You have condemned the innocent and murdered him; he offers no resistance."

What a remarkable prophecy! The Sioux Wars removed the people of the Plains, the U.S. Cavalry thundered up and down, murdering Indians, and lathering the land with blood, while the mechanical reaper shaved the grasses. When historians speak of "the open frontier," it means the Indians were wiped out. This is the genocide which led to the agricultural depression in Europe, produced by the mechanical reaper scalping the prairie. No, the reapers were not paid.

Fast Food Nation perhaps may not yet have been up to speed yet the starting gun had been fired. Swift and Armour were the big meatpackers: they organized the mechanization of death, the machines of mass slaughter of cattle and swine. The Union Stock Yards had just been constructed. The employers threatened to employ "the whole machinery of government," including the army, "to enforce the laws of the market." Mechanization indeed was taking command.

On May Day 1886 as the workers of the USA struck for the eight-hour day, the police shot and killed four strikers at the McCormick works. August Spies issued the flyer, calling the workers to rise, to arms, for revenge. On the 4 May strikes resumed, now joined by union switchmen, laundry girls, even students from some of the schools.

At the Haymarket, tons of hay and bushels of vegetables were brought in from the Dutch truck farms. Transportation was by horse power. Indeed, then horses were part of the working class, as Jason Hribal has provoked us to thinking. Haymarket in Chicago in May 1886 was like Guernica in Spain in 1937 when the Condor Legion wiped it out by bombing: that is to say it was a busy, crowded market, ideal for terrorism.

The weather changed, the moonlit sky suddenly turned dark, as a cloud blew over, just preceding the blast. The police advanced. A bomb was thrown. In the mêlée a large number of police were wounded by the friendly fire from their own revolvers. Sam Fielden was shot in the leg. Henry Spies took a bullet for his brother. Seven policemen fell. But who threw the bomb? John Swinton, the most influential labor journalist in the land, argued that the police themselves provoked the violence to stop the strike movement for the eight hour day.

A period of police terrorism ensued. There were hundreds of arrests. There were raids at meeting halls, saloons, and newspaper offices. Captain Schaak put suspects into the sweatbox (small pitch dark wooden container) for hours to make them talk. Albert Parsons fled to Mexico, it was rumored, or was "hiding out among the negroes." That summer there was a trial, conducted by passion, judged by bigotry. Green tells the story with verve and drama. Witnesses were paid off. The jury consisted of salesmen, clerks, a high school principal, well-off all.

Nina Van Zandt, the handsome Vassar graduate and heiress, made eyes at August Spies during the trial. In the jailhouse, the love affair developed. Spies told the court, "Here you will tread upon a spark, but here, and there, and behind you and in front of you, and everywhere, flames will blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out. The ground is on fire upon which you stand."

Michael Schwab defended anarchy saying it was the antithesis of violence. Parsons charged the court with "judicial murder." He explained socialism and anarchism. "I am doomed by you to suffer an ignominious death because I am an outspoken enemy of coercion, of privilege, of force, of authority. your every word and act are recorded. You are being weighed in the balance. The people are conscious of your power your stolen power. I, a working man, stand here and to your face, in your stronghold of oppression, denounce your crimes against humanity." Neebe was found guilty but punished with 15 years in the penitentiary. Louis Lingg killed himself. Fielden and Schwab had their sentence commuted to life imprisonment. Albert Parsons refused alcohol. He sang "La Marseillaise" and songs by Bobbie Burns. August Spies newspaper editor of the Arbeiter Zeitung in 1884. On August Spies had said, "The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today."

We are finding voice. Cindy Sheehan gives us voice. "Si se puede," gives us voice. The Chicago idea was this: trade unions could take mass action against capital and the state. This idea has been disappeared or throttled. The magical realism of the ruling class proclaims May Day to be Law Day (had they not heard of Ozymandias, or Humpty Dumpty?) None died from a broken neck, all strangled to death, slowly as it appeared to the witnesses, convulsing and twisting on the rope.

That was 11 of November 1887.

James Green tells us that it was a turning point in American history. The killing at the McCormick plant, the bombing at Haymarket, the court proceedings, and the hanging of 11 November 1887 extinguished the Knights of Labor, defeated the eight-hour movement, suppressed the radicals.

…The 151 foot Statue of Liberty was dedicated only two weeks before the hangings in Chicago. Inscribed on its pedestal were the words of Emma Lazarus
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

John Pemberton, a pharmacist, who invented a medicine to relieve headaches and alleviate nausea. It combines coca leaves from the Andes with cola nuts from Africa, mixed with water, caramel, and sugar: Coca-Cola, the Atlantic remedy for the ills of the barbarism of capitalism.

…The urbanocide of Katrina, the castrametation of Iraq, the devaluation of the working class, the absolute rule of the petrolarchs have produced gut-wrenching grief and sorrow. Our head spins and spins in the dizzy search for cause-and-effect, searching the origin of this twisted, agonizing karma.

Half way between the gut and the head lies the heart. The heart and soul of our movement may be found on May Day and it's going to take our arms and legs to find them as well as our brains. So, let us join the hobgoblin.

Take heart with Death in the Haymarket in hand!

All out for May Day!


Blogger Postman said...

Craig Roberts said ... inter alia ..

A country that fears small, distant countries to such an extent that it utilizes military in place of diplomatic means is not a superpower. The entire world knows that the US is not a superpower when its entire available military force is tied down by a small lightly armed insurgency drawn from a Sunni population of a mere 5 million people.

Bush's gang of mad beekeepers

March 19, 2003


Counting the cost... eventually

The course is charted, arrogant use of the military is all the US ruling class has to maintain its dominance. After Iraq, asymmetric warfare, "terrorism," will be directed at Americans, American institutions, American targets, and American allies. When the rest of the world recognizes how thinly spread the US military is, thinly spread physically, and economically, because it is not a sustainable institution in its current incarnation, rebellions will occur. Indeed they have already started. The response of the weakening US will be to lash out, often with unforeseeable consequences, just as the consequences of this impending invasion are unforeseeable, and unknown.

Sturm and Drang

Military might is a sign of strength, but the US military is not invincible worldwide. America's use of force as both first and last resort is a sign of profound systemic weakness. Its employment today will destabilize the world, and cause us to stumble into a Third World War: The War of Unintended Consequences.

There is a long struggle ahead, and it will become more terrible as it proceeds. But just as those before us fought slavery, apartheid, fascism, communism and colonialism, we can take up our historical task with confidence and determination, and assert our humanity against the gang of mad beekeepers. Just remember as Dubya and the gang keeps reminding us, "America is the world's oldest Democracy," .....even though for over 100 years it managed to sustain a slave class.

8:22 AM  

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