Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Leftist Cartoon Strips

It's very rare to find a creative and entertaining Leftist Cartoon Strip and when one is found it is a true gem. Thanks to some comrades, I was made aware of this particular comic strip by Jeffrey Weston called the Adventures of Noam Chomsky. Click on the comic strip to see the full size image. Straight comedy!

If you enjoy this strip and want to see more then check out the wesbite site, Post Modern Haircut!


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Workers Self-Management in Action!

I posted this old article as an example of worker's self-management in action. It is a case in which 300 odd workers of the largest ceramic floor-tile factory in Argentina had expropriated the means of production and created a democratic workplace.

"The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the workers themselves." Flora Tristan, 1843.

March 18, 2004

Zanon, Argentina

By Marie Trigona

At the break of dawn on a frigid winter day the workers of Zanon, a ceramics factory under worker control, file into the plant for the day's first shift (6am to 1pm). They greet the men in charge of security at the plant's entrance and punch in to the time clock.

Since March, 2002 the factory has been producing without an owner, bosses or foremen. The factory sits among the red earth and rolling hills of the Southern Neuquén province in Argentina and is the largest factory in the region. After a long-standing conflict with the owners for back pay, sudden closure of the factory and firings in the fall of 2001, Zanon's workers occupied the factory and set an example of resistance against capitalism for workers all over the world that workers can produce even better under self-organization/management.

"It was a decision to stay here and struggle or go home, I could have gone home but I decided to stay here in the factory and struggle. I learned to defend my 15 years of work here in the factory and fight," forcefully expressed Rosa Rivera, one of the 15 women among the 300 employed by the factory.

"The owners never paid taxes, during the epoch of former President Raul Menem they were given millions of dollars in subsidies, the exploitation of the workers was extremely high and the company were stealing Mapuche land for raw resources for the ceramics factory."

When corporate welfare ran dry due to the Argentina's economic collapse in 2001, Zanon's owners decided to close its doors and fire the workers without paying months of back pay or indemnity. October, 2001, of the 331 original workers, 266 decided to continue to come to the factory to work to continue in their job posts. For four months workers camped outside the factory, pamphleteering and partially blocking a highway leading to the capital city Neuquén.

During this time, the events Argentina's popular rebellion December 19 and 20, 2001 and the brief post-rebellion upsurge of other factory occupations and organizing among the popular assemblies and unemployed workers organizations also influenced the decision to begin working under worker control.

"When we re-entered the factory we began selling the materials produce on a small-scale level, when those ran out, we asked ourselves what do we do-fight for an unemployment subsidy of 150 pesos [about 50 US dollars] or put the factory to work?," explains Fransisco Mollinas.

In March, 2002 the workers of Zanon reentered the factory and began to produce. "This is a battle against individualism, against everything that those above impose upon us. Here inside the factory we are fighting for a new human being."

As soon as the workers began to produce without an owner or boss, relationships inside the factory were re-invented, breaking with hierarchical organization, isolation and exploitation. Workers describe the company's practices of controlling the workers-one example is that workers had to wear a uniform of a certain color, to identify which sector a worker belonged to and it was prohibited to speak with a worker from a different sector.

On the wall in the factory's offices hangs a ceramic tile with an image of a young man, Daniel, with an inscription remembering him as a fellow comrade who died in the factory. Production inside the factory was set to maximize the company's profits, reducing salaries to the minimum possible level, cutting corners on worker safety measures and pressuring workers to produce at higher levels making it possible to have less workers on the production line.

These conditions previous to the workers' occupation led to an average of 25-30 accidents per month and one fatality per year. In the years of Zanon's production, 14 workers died inside the factory. Since Zanon's occupation by its workers not one accident inside the factory has occurred. "With the owner, you worry and are pressured. Without him you work better, you take on more responsibility with consciousness," one worker comments.

The factory is now organized practicing the ideal of horizontalism, direct democracy and autonomy. Everything is decided in an assembly, there is no hierarchical personnel or administration. Each sector such as the production line, sales, production planning, press, etc, has a commission which votes in a coordinator. The coordinator of the sector informs on issues, news and conflicts within his or her sector to the delegate's table. The coordinator then reports back to his or her commission news from other sectors.

Today, Zanon employs over 300 workers and continues to plan to hire more workers. Since the factory's occupation over 70 workers have been hired. The workers' assembly decided that it is necessary to take on workers from the unemployed workers organizations. Most new workers participate in the MTD (Unemployed Workers Movement). Each worker receives 800-pesos a month salary, which was based on the cost of basic "canasta familiar" or family needs.

The factory that spans for blocks has 18 production lines, while only three are currently functioning. Meanwhile, the factory is only producing 12-15% of its capacity, with lowered levels of exploitation (workers working less hours, higher salaries) they have been able to hire new workers.

One of the keys to Zanon's success has been the insertion of the workers' struggle into the community. At the factory's entrance, workers have constructed a mural made of broken ceramics. The mural tells of the history of the struggle inside Zanon. It begins with men and women around a large pot cooking above a fire.

During the months outside the factory, neighbors, students and workers from piquetero movement demonstrated solidarity-giving funds and groceries for the workers campaign. The prisoners from the jail behind the factory donated their food rations to the workers. Social organizations such as Mothers of Plaza de Mayo have acted in solidarity, some of the women are 70-years old, have declared that they to will defend the factory with their lives.

Zanon's self-defense and security scheme is the back bone of the factory. The government's response to Zanon has been violent, using different tactics to evict the factory. The government has tried to evict the factory five times with police operatives.

Each time thousands of community members came to defend the factory. When there is the threat of eviction, everyone leaves their job posts and assumes the role of security-unemployed workers organizations with self-defense lines outside the factory, while the workers go to the roof-top to take on self-defense measures like using the sling-shot.

Prison number 11 sits right behind the factory. One night, we accompanied the workers in charge of night security on their nightly rounds around the factory we near the prison. About 20 meters away we hear "clack-clack", a prisoner guard loading his rifle while we pass by.

The factory has developed particular measures to ensure that infiltrators do not enter the factory. Each worker must punch into the time clock-not to punish him or her for arriving late but to keep track of who is inside the factory. Before the plant's security was used to guard against workers stealing equipment. Today, workers in security make sure each worker coming to work brought his or her sling-shot to work.

On November 25, 2003 workers from Zanon and unemployed workers organizations in Nuequén protested a debit card for the unemployed (rather than receiving the 150-unemployement welfare to work subsidy in cash the government now wants the jobless to use the bank card, forcing them to only be able to take out a minimum amount in cash from the banks and having to purchase defined goods in 'commercial networks' which are to be transnational supermarkets).

The protests ended with violent state repression. There were over 22 injured - 10 from lead bullet wounds. Andrés from MTD and worker of occupied ceramics factory Zanon was injured with over 64 impacts from rubber bullets. He was held for over 8 hours by police without medical attention while he was tortured. He lost his left eye.

On December 2, 2003 seven hooded men entered the factory armed and stole 32,000-pesos. This was also after organizations in Nuequén were brutally repressed in November and workers and activists with MTD were continuously threatened in their homes. "We see this as a way to pressure those of us who are struggling for a more just society," published the workers in a press release after the infiltrators made off with the money.

The government is also using cooperatives to co-opt the factories under worker control. Other than Zanon, there is only one business, Tigre supermarket in Rosario that has refused cooperatization. "The government is co-opting the movement through different methods. The state offers cooperatives but you have to stop struggling," explains Raul Godoy, worker at Zanon.

The workers of Brukman, suit factory in Buenos Aires that was evicted on April 18, 2003, have reentered the factory recently but under cooperatization. They now have only two years to buy the machinery and building under the agreement that the government offered. Since the Brukman eviction, the political Left has been criticized for its damaging intervention in the conflict (convincing the workers that self-defense tactics were not necessary during the workers 16-month occupation of the factory and during the attempt to re-enter the factory after the eviction). The factory ! now has private security company, a shameful reminder of what the factory once symbolized.

Rosa Rivera, worker at Zanon for 15 years explains that Zanon is not only a struggle for the 300 workers inside the factory but a struggle for the community and social revolution. "If factories are shut down and abandoned, workers have the right to occupy it, put it to work and defend it with their lives."

In the shambles of Argentina's highly divided movements, Zanon continues as one of the most dynamic expressions of resistance against capitalism. The social process inside the factory has brought inspiration to break with the patrón (boss) for other workers occupying factories and for the working-class all over the world.

Marie Trigona is an independent journalist and activist based in Argentina. She participates in Grupo Alavío, video and direct action collective. She can be reached at

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Housing in a Post-Revolutionary Society

In this blog post, I want to discuss a possible solution on how a community can request new housing for it's citizens. This discussion include ideas of private property, socialized means of production and participatory planning. In a post-revolutionary society the means of production are owned by everyone and not by one particular production group. Therefore, each actor should influence decisions in proportion in which they are affected by them.

(spartan @ October 02, 2007 06:42 pm)
I don't see a 50-50 split happening in your situation. The factory can either have the abundance to supply the wood to the commune or not.

(And who are willing to give some of there Yes but what if C2 does not want to supply C1 with wood which is needed by C2? A solution to this problem could be for C1 to look elsewhere to another commune for wood away) but what if the next nearest commune is too far away too suit C1's demand for the wood?This could create a supply problem! Especially if C1 needs the wood desperately and gets impatient for the wood.This could lead to C1 getting violent!

Well, in that case the wood factory of commune 2(from here on out referred to as Che Commune) has a workers council which is part of a larger federation of wood factory workers' council, which could be regional, national or international. If someone can supply it, it wouldn't take long for the commune to receive it.

Again, i think we have to think about rules of order.

In an post-revolutionary society there will be stages of planning before voting takes place.

If your part of a group, do you vote you all go to Egypt without first checking the traveling expenses and seeing whether it's in your budget?

Wouldn't be too clever. And you'll be in for a surprise..

Say the Eastside neighborhood council makes part of Che Commune, a commune which is made up of various neighborhood councils and workers councils. The neighborhood council received requests to build more houses and raised the issue in the next commune meeting and submitted the idea of new housing as a collective consumption project. The commune then submits this proposal to a facilitation board which calculates how much wood and other supplies would be needed for the project.

Workers also make proposals for what they intend to produce and the inputs needed for production. These production proposals would have also been sent to the facilation board where through a system of proposals, amendments, and rejections, a social plan articulated to cover the entire economy is hashed out.

The worker organizations that would do the work of construction and provide the materials, including the wood workers organization that provides the lumber, etc. would need to also indicate what they require in order to meet these requests. The facilitation board will relay this new information to Che commune and the Eastside neighborhood council. Where if needed they can make the proper "adjustments" to their proposals. The households of Eastside commune given back 4 different revised proposals which they rank in order of preference. After each round, a proposal is dropped until the neighborhood has settled on it's collective consumption proposal(which includes new housing requests).

This is all part of the process of negotiating of a plan on how scarce resources will be allocated. Che commune, ore more precisely, the Eastside neighborhood council can either re-adjust their collective consumption plans or put the project on hold. If through this process of adjustments, they can reach an "agreement", the community votes to settle the collective consumption proposals in order to begin prouduction on the new houses.

As always emphasized, this is just one particular way to pursue a collective consumption decision making process.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fallen Soldiers Fridays: Che Guevara

Every Friday I will post a biography of an honored hero in the revolutionary struggle. Some will be well-known freedom fighters like Malcolm X or Mao Tse Tsung, others, so not well known. Because not all believed in the same strategy to achieve liberation, we will see a conflict of ideas. Something that we can draw upon to construct our views today.

Guevara, Che (1928-1967)

Argentinian doctor; joined Castro in Mexico in 1954; a leader of the 1956-59 Cuban Revolution. Che served as president of Cuba's national bank and as Cuba's minister of industry in the period immediately following the Cuban Revolution.

Towards the end of his formal affiliation with the Cuban government, Che came to implicitly criticize Soviet bureacracy. His positions put him at odds with the party line of the Cuban CP. In 1965, Che realized that the defence of the Cuban revolution and the creation of revolutions abroad were naturally not always in sync, and this ultimately led to his resignation and his return to revolutionary work abroad.

During Che's subsequent revolutionary campaigns, he wrote his Message to the Tricontinental (1967) in which he openly criticized the Soviet Union; claiming that the Northern hemisphere of the world, both the Soviet Union and the US, exploited the Southern hemisphere of the world. He strongly supported the Vietnamese Revolution, and urged his comrades in South America to create "many vietnams".

In 1965 Che left Cuba to set up guerrilla forces first in the Congo and then later in Bolivia, where he was ultimately captured and killed in October 1967. Accounts of his execution have varied over the years, but many contemprary accounts indicate some degree of collaboration between Bolivia's government troops and the United States CIA.

Guevara developed a theory of primacy of military struggle, in particular concept of guerilla foquismo. Many of Che's theories regarding guerilla tactics are articulated in his 1961 work "Guerilla Warfare."

Further Reading: Che Guevara Archive

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Train Services in a Decentralised Economy

I'd like to discuss a bit on how train services would work in a socialist society with a decentralized and participatory economics and social planning. I hope to show just how it is possible to generate train schedules and other functions without central planning or a central authority. It begins with a question made by a advocate of central planning..

If you don't believe in a centally planned economy, how would train timetables be drawn up? I mean, you can't have decentralised train services can you? Someone has to have the authority to plan the way that a nation's train service operates.

I think you have a misconception of what it means to be decentralized and the absence of authority.

Here's what Bakunin had to say,

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer.

I bow before the authority of special men because it is imposed upon me by my own reason. I am conscious of my inability to grasp, in all its details and positive developments, any very large portion of human knowledge.

-God and the State (1876)

The train federation, which consists of delegates from various train stations will adjust to each other through a system of requests and proposals. These proposals not only have to be ratified by the train federation, but also by the communities that it directly effects. This is obviously because any changes in the timetables may have a ripple effect. If you want to change the schedule for the train heading from Newark to Irvington, this will effect the schedule for the train heading from Orange to Cherry Hill and so on. Which may cause an inconvenience to workers.

So what would need to happen is community councils and regional meetings of the delegates of the communities, need to develop their plans for transportation (as well as other consumptions), and likewise, train station councils and federation would need to put forward their initial proposals terms of what they propose to do. Again, through a democratic and participatory process of proposals, requests, rejections, amendments, a time table that benefits the majority of people will be developed.

Through these proposals and by analyzing the data, facilitators note how there is a increase in the percentage of people who need to travel to Cherry Hill to Newark at a specific time range and a decrease of a need to travel to Cherry Hill to Passaic. Once the effects are examined and ratified by all parties, the new timetables are updated to adjust to these changes.

Again, this is just my conception of how decentralized planning of timetables will take place. Others may have other options and that's fine. This is just an abstract framework.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Viva Zapata!

I thought this was a very nice piece of artwork done by lonewolfen, which can be found on deviantart. It is a digital art piece of Zapatista Sub Comandante Marcos.

.anarchist by ~lonewolfen on deviantART

Vanguard Party?

I'd like to discuss the structure of Leninist form of organization and how it can lead to either a restoration of capitalism or exerts itself as a dictatorship over the proletariat and how that can be avoided.

But here's the rub. There are forces in high positions of leadership in the party and state that push and fight for a bourgeois line. By bourgeois line, I mean an outlook and policies that seek to expand the kinds of inequalities that characterize capitalism. I mean an outlook and policies that seek to restrict the initiative of the masses. And these forces in high leadership who push a bourgeois line will be strategically positioned to implement their program: to institute policies and to restructure economic and social relations in a capitalist direction.

There should be no reason whatsoever, that any one person or groups of people, should be "strategically positioned" to implement their programs to restructure economic and social relations in a capitalist direction!

If the structure of the organization is of the Leninist form , then that structure in of itself, due to its hierarchy and non-participatory nature, will thwart a true proletariat revolutionary movement, due to it's exclusion of the working class!

In fact, this very structure, is the reason why forces can become "strategically positioned" in high positions of leadership to wield a larger influence in the direction of society and the revolutionary movement.

Because Leninist forms of organizations do no incorporate a democratic process in which workers and consumers jointly plan their endeavors, this obviously excludes ordinary workers and consumers from participating in any economic decision making process.

As a result, a Leninist party usually ends up implementing a centrally planned economy. This is in essence bureaucratic management of the the economy and other spheres of society.

This leads to a monopoly on decision making, as well as other tasks (and former bourgeois perks).

However, this whole threat of forces carrying a bourgeois line can be completely avoided.

How so?

Throw the whole Leninist vanguard party model out the window.

It's a just a breeding ground for the restoration of capitalism.

The Revolutionary Betrayed: The Sequel

Instead, we need a form of organization where the working class are in direct control of the movement. By implementing Participatory Allocation, and participatory or decentralized economics in general, we can avoid any threat of "forces in high leadership".

Joe Smoe wants to institute zones for capitalist investment in a participatory society? Good luck getting that one passed buddy. Something like that isn't a neighborhood, ward, city, state or region decision. So good luck with having the majority of society voting to restore capitalism.

There is little to no chance to consolidate power for the eventual development of or re-development of Capitalism.

Society will be egalitarian and participatory.

Nationalism is not the answer

Nationalism is not the answer

by Justin Podur

With all the links between global capitalism, imperialism, and racism, one might be tempted to think that nationalism is the solution. A liberatory nationalism of third world peoples, to free them from the global capitalist system. In particular contexts such national struggles can be liberatory. Of that there is no question. But caution is necessary.

As Arundhati Roy says

"It's disturbing to see how neatly nationalism dovetails into fascism. While we must not allow the fascists to define what the nation is, or who it belongs to, it's worth keeping in mind that nationalism, in all its many avatars—socialist, capitalist and fascist—has been at the root of almost all the genocides of the twentieth century. On the issue of nationalism, it's wise to proceed with caution."
Arundhati Roy, April 2002

While a national liberation movement is based on fighting colonial oppression and a community that comes together to fight that oppression, that shared history has often proven to be insufficient to build on. When nation-states arise, the nationalism they practice is based on something—territory, or language, or history, or shared cultural practices, or some combination. Nationalism says that a group that shares some of these things belongs naturally together. It belongs naturally together so much so that it is the primary community that a person belongs to. It’s sovereign, meaning that it has the final say. You might take other things into account, but the nation has the final say.

Today, in spite of all the control that corporations have, the final say over land, over people, over law—belongs to nation states and these nation states have used their power to empower capital. Who passes the laws enforcing private property? Who uses the police to break labour or community organizations? Who attacks and destroys indigenous populations or ethnic minorities? Nation-states, and nation-states who do all these things, very often, in the name of the nation. I don’t want to gloss over the role of imperialism here. Foreign attacks and interventions always play a key role in undermining people’s freedom-- but so do local elites and national chauvinism.

Again I want to repeat that nations have also been a basis for resistance. Cultures have been a basis for resistance, against oppression by capital or imperialism. ---resistance needs a basis in a community. The networks of relationships, the shared language and history that make a culture are such a community. But there are many kinds of communities. And there is no reason to privilege one kind of community and say it has the final say. There are linguistic links, religious links, links of interest or friendship. Should one have to choose between them? Should one have to choose between being Tzotzil and Mexican, or Quebecois and Canadian, or Malayali, Christian, and Indian, or Muslim, Punjabi, and Pakistani? The formula of nationalism that reduces individuals to a single identity, denying the fact that we have multiple, overlapping identities and belong to multiple communities, is not compatible with a decent world.

Fred Hampton's Assassination

Here is a short program done on the life and assassination of Brother Fred Hampton. A more indepth look into the life and circumstances around his death can be found in the documentary The Murder of Fred Hampton.

Fred Hampton: Life and Death

Fred Hampton

Born August 30, 1948
Chicago, Illinois
Died December 4, 1969
Chicago, Illinois
Fred Hampton (August 30, 1948 – December 4, 1969) was a radical African American activist and deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. He was killed in his apartment by tactical unit of the Cook County, Illinois State's Attorney's Office (SAO), in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Many activists consider his killing to have been extrajudicial punishment.


Hampton was born on August 30, 1948, in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Maywood, a suburb to the west of the city. His parents had moved north from Louisiana, and both worked at the Argo Starch Company. As a youth, Hampton was gifted both in the classroom and on the athletic field, graduating from high school with honors in 1966.

Following his graduation, Hampton enrolled at Triton Junior College in nearby River Grove, Illinois, majoring in pre-law. He also became active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), assuming leadership of the Youth Council of the organization's West Suburban Branch. In his capacity as an NAACP youth organizer, Hampton began to show signs of his natural leadership abilities; from a community of 27,000, he was able to muster a youth group 500-members strong. He worked to get more and better recreational facilities established in the neighborhoods, and to improve educational resources for Maywood's impoverished black community. Through his involvement with the NAACP, Hampton hoped to achieve social change through nonviolent activism and community organizing


At about the same time that Hampton was successfully organizing young African Americans for the NAACP, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense started rising to national prominence. Hampton was quickly attracted to the Black Panthers' approach, which was based on a ten-point program of a mix of black self-determination and certain elements of Maoism. Hampton joined the Party and relocated to downtown Chicago, and in November of 1968 he joined the Party's nascent Illinois chapter — founded by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizer Bob Brown in late 1967.

Over the next year, Hampton and his associates made a number of significant achievements in Chicago. Perhaps his most important accomplishment was his brokering of a nonaggression pact between Chicago's most powerful street gangs. Emphasizing that racial and ethnic conflict between gangs would only keep its members entrenched in poverty, Hampton strove to forge a class-conscious, multi-racial (albeit tenuous) alliance between the BPP, Students for a Democratic Society, the Blackstone Rangers, the Young Lords, and the Young Patriots. In May of 1969, Hampton called a press conference to announce that a truce had been declared among this "rainbow coalition," a phrase coined by Hampton and made popular over the years by Rev. Jesse Jackson, who eventually appropriated the name in forming his own unrelated coalition, Rainbow PUSH.

Hampton's organizing skills, substantial oratorical gifts, and personal charisma allowed him to rise quickly in the Black Panthers. Once he became leader of the Chicago chapter, he organized weekly rallies, worked closely with the BPP's local People's Clinic, taught political education classes every morning at 6am, and launched a project for community supervision of the police. Hampton was also instrumental in the BPP's Free Breakfast Program. When Brown left the Party with Stokely Carmichael in the FBI-fomented SNCC/Panther split, Hampton assumed chairmanship of the Illinois state BPP, automatically making him a national BPP deputy chairman. As the Panther leadership across the country began to be decimated by the impact of the FBI's COINTELPRO, Hampton's prominence in the national hierarchy increased rapidly and dramatically. Eventually, Hampton was in line to be appointed to the Party's Central Committee's Chief of Staff. He would have achieved this position had it not been for his untimely death on the morning of December 4, 1969.


While Hampton impressed many of the people with whom he came into contact as an effective leader and talented communicator, those very qualities marked him as a major threat in the eyes of the FBI. It began keeping close tabs on his activities. Subsequent investigations have shown that FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover was determined to prevent the formation of a cohesive Black radical movement in the United States. Hoover saw the Panthers, and radical ethnic nationalist coalitions like that forged by Hampton in Chicago, as a frightening stepping stone toward the creation of just such a revolutionary body that could, in its strength, potentially overthrow the government of the United States.

The FBI opened a file on Hampton in 1967 that over the next two years expanded to twelve volumes and over four thousand pages. A wire tap was placed on Hampton's mother's phone in February of 1968. By May of that year, Hampton's name was placed on the "Agitator Index" and he would be designated a "key militant leader for Bureau reporting purposes."

In late 1968, the Racial Matters squad of the FBI's Chicago field office brought in an individual named William O'Neal, who had recently been arrested twice, for interstate car theft and impersonating a federal officer. In exchange for dropping the felony charges and a monthly stipend, O'Neal apparently agreed to infiltrate the BPP as a counterintelligence operative. He joined the Party and quickly rose in the organization, becoming Director of Chapter security and Hampton's bodyguard.

By means of anonymous letters, the FBI sowed distrust and eventually instigated a split between the Panthers and the Rangers, with O'Neal himself instigating an armed clash between the two on April 2, 1969. The Panthers became effectively isolated from their powerbase in the ghetto, so the FBI went to work to undermine its ties with other radical organizations. O'Neal was instructed to "create a rift" between the Party and SDS, whose Chicago headquarters was only blocks from that of the Panthers. The Bureau released a batch of racist cartoons in the Panthers' name, aimed at alienating white activists, and launched a disinformation program to forestall the realization of the "Rainbow Coalition." In repeated directives, J. Edgar Hoover demanded that the COINTELPRO personnel "destroy what the [BPP] stands for" and "eradicate its 'serve the people' programs".

The local Chicago police did not stand idly by. It helped the FBI by launching an all-out assault on the Black Panthers and their allies, characterizing the group as just a criminal gang. The CPD instigated an unprovoked armed confrontation with party members on July 16, which left one member mortally wounded and six others arrested on serious charges. On July 31, the CPD raided and ransacked the Monroe Street office, smashing typewriters, destroying food and medical supplies for the Panther health clinic and breakfast program, setting several small fires, and beating and arresting a number of Panthers for obstruction. A similar raid took place on October 31.

On May 26, 1969, Hampton was successfully prosecuted in a dubious case related to a theft in 1967 of $72 worth of ice cream in Maywood. He was sentenced to two to five years, but he managed to obtain an appeal bond and was released in August.

In early October, Hampton and his girlfriend, Deborah Johnson, pregnant with their first child (Fred Hampton, Jr.), rented a four-and-a-half room apartment on 2337 West Monroe Street to be closer to BPP headquarters. O'Neal reported to his superiors that much of the Panthers' "provocative" stockpile of arms was being stored there. In early November, Hampton travelled to California on a speaking engagement to the UCLA Law Students Association. While there, he met with the remaining BPP national hierarchy, who appointed him to the Party's Central Committee. Shortly thereafter he was to assume the position of Chief of Staff and major spokesman. This, combined with the Chicago BPP chapter having become one of the strongest in the country, with one of the most successful Serve the People programs, motivated the FBI to look for a more permanent way of neutralizing Hampton.

The raid

In mid-November 1969, O'Neal provided the FBI with detailed information of Hampton's apartment, including the location of furniture and the bed in which Hampton and his girlfriend slept. An augmented, fourteen-man team of the SAO -- Special Prosecutions Unit -- was organized for a pre-dawn raid armed with an illegal weapons warrant. On the evening of December 3, Hampton taught a political education course at a local church, which was attended by most members. Afterwards, as was typical, several Panthers retired to the Monroe Street apartment to spend the night, including Hampton and Deborah Johnson, Blair Anderson, Doc Satchell, Harold Bell, Verlina Brewer, Louis Truelock, Brenda Harris, and Mark Clark. Upon arrival, they were met by O'Neal, who had prepared a late dinner which was consumed by the group around midnight. O'Neal left at this point, and, at about 1:30 a.m., Hampton fell asleep in mid-sentence talking to his mother on the telephone. (The Kool Aid was subsequently thought to have been laced with the powerful barbiturate, secobarbitol.)

At 4:00 a.m., the heavily armed police team arrived at the site, dividing into two teams, eight for the front of the building and six for the rear. At 4:45, they stormed in the apartment. Mark Clark, asleep in a front room with a shotgun in his lap, was killed instantly, despite firing off a single round — the only shot the Panthers fired. The automatic gunfire converged at the head of the bedroom where Hampton slept. Two officers found him wounded in the shoulder, and Harold Bell reported hearing the following exchange:

"That's Fred Hampton."
"Is he dead?... Bring him out."
"He's barely alive; he'll make it."
Two shots were heard, which it was later discovered were fired point blank in Hampton's head. According to Deborah Johnson, one officer then said:

"He's good and dead now."

Hampton's body was dragged into the doorway of the bedroom and left in a pool of blood. The raiders then directed their gunfire towards the remaining Panthers, who were hiding in another bedroom. They were wounded, then beaten and dragged into the street, where they were arrested on charges of aggravated assault and the attempted murder of their assailants. They were held on US$100,000 bail apiece.


At a press conference the next day, the police announced the arrest team had been attacked by the "violent" and "extremely vicious" Panthers and had defended themselves accordingly. In a second press conference on December 8, the assault team was praised for their "remarkable restraint," "bravery," and "professional discipline" in not killing all the Panthers present. Photographic evidence was presented of bullet holes made by shots fired by the Panthers, but this was soon challenged by reporters. An internal investigation was undertaken; the assault team was exonerated of any wrongdoing. But investigators themselves later admitted it was a "whitewash". A day or two after the raid, the Chicago Police returned to the scene, and in a widely televised event, tore down the inside walls of the Black Panther home. Some believe this was done to destroy the ballistic evidence that could have incriminated the police. It took years of incessant public pressure to expose the truth; eventually it was proven that all but one of the ninety-nine shots were fired by the police.

Hampton's funeral was attended by 5,000 people, and he was eulogized by such black leaders as Jesse Jackson and Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King's successor as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In his eulogy, Jackson noted that "when Fred was shot in Chicago, black people in particular, and decent people in general, bled everywhere."

Although the officers involved in the raid were cleared by a grand jury of any crimes, a subsequent investigation definitively declared the officers were guilty of murdering the Black Panthers without justification or provocation. The families of Hampton and Clark filed a $47.7 million civil suit against the city, state, and federal governments. More than a decade later, the suit was finally settled, and the two families each received an undisclosed sum. In 1990, the Chicago City Council passed a resolution declaring "Fred Hampton Day" in honor of the slain leader.

The Chicago City Council unanimously approved a resolution introduced by former Alderwoman Marlene C. Carter commemorating Dec. 4, 2004, as "Fred Hampton Day in Chicago." The resolution read in part: "Fred Hampton, who was only 21 years old, made his mark in Chicago history not so much by his death as by the heroic efforts of his life and by his goals of empowering the most oppressed sector of Chicago's Black community, bringing people into political life through participation in their own freedom fighting organization."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Whitey on the Moon

We live in arguably one of the richest countries in the world. We live in the richest country in the world yet so do over 31 million poor people, 3 million of whom are homeless and wander the streets eating from garbage cans and sleeping in alleys and overpasses. Extreme poverty is overshadowed by government spending billions upon billions of dollars on various projects , such as the space program.

I think if there is one commentary that captures this disparity best, it is Whitey on the Moon as performed by Gil Scot Heron.

It is a cultural commentary depicting socio-economic and racial inequity of the late 1960s in the United States, inspired by the Moon Landing of 1969.

Whitey on the Moon - Gil-Scott Heron (1972)

A rat done bit my sister Nell with Whitey on the moon.

Her face and arms began to swell and Whitey's on the moon.

I can't pay no doctor bills but Whitey's on the moon.

Ten years from now I'll be payin' still while Whitey's on the moon.

The man just upped my rent last night cuz Whitey's on the moon.

No hot water, no toilets, no lights but Whitey's on the moon.

I wonder why he's uppin me. Cuz Whitey's on the moon?

I was already givin' him fifty a week but now Whitey's on the moon.

Taxes takin' my whole damn check,

The junkies makin' me a nervous wreck,

The price of food is goin' up,

And as if all that shit wasn't enough:

A rat done bit my sister Nell with Whitey on the moon.

Her face and arms began to swell but Whitey's on the moon.

Was all that money I made last year for Whitey on the moon?

How come there ain't no money here? Hmm! Whitey's on the moon.

Ya know, I just about had my fill of Whitey on the moon.

I think I'll send these doctor bills

airmail special....

to Whitey on the moon.

The question of Use Value In Marxian Economics

I'm going to repost the basic summary of Marx on scarcity from Chapter One of Das Kapital,

The value of a commodity would therefore remain constant, if the labour time required for its production also remained constant. But the latter changes with every variation in the productiveness of labour. This productiveness is determined by various circumstances, amongst others, by the average amount of skill of the workmen, the state of science, and the degree of its practical application, the social organisation of production, the extent and capabilities of the means of production, and by physical conditions. For example, the same amount of labour in favourable seasons is embodied in 8 bushels of corn, and in unfavourable, only in four. The same labour extracts from rich mines more metal than from poor mines. Diamonds are of very rare occurrence on the earth’s surface, and hence their discovery costs, on an average, a great deal of labour time. Consequently much labour is represented in a small compass. Jacob doubts whether gold has ever been paid for at its full value. This applies still more to diamonds. According to Eschwege, the total produce of the Brazilian diamond mines for the eighty years, ending in 1823, had not realised the price of one-and-a-half years’ average produce of the sugar and coffee plantations of the same country, although the diamonds cost much more labour, and therefore represented more value. With richer mines, the same quantity of labour would embody itself in more diamonds, and their value would fall. If we could succeed at a small expenditure of labour, in converting carbon into diamonds, their value might fall below that of bricks. In general, the greater the productiveness of labour, the less is the labour time required for the production of an article, the less is the amount of labour crystallised in that article, and the less is its value; and vice versâ, the less the productiveness of labour, the greater is the labour time required for the production of an article, and the greater is its value. The value of a commodity, therefore, varies directly as the quantity, and inversely as the productiveness, of the labour incorporated in it.

In essence rarity does play a role since considerable labor time is required to extract it, then it gets further work in polishing and setting in rings, etc., which is more labor time. Yes, I understand labor time and its importance in determining cost while it take the seller to set the price. The seller is the capitalist. Is it the labor that mades a diamond valuable or it's use value? What was its use value in Marx's day. I still tend to believe that it's rarity made it valuable rather than it usefullness

First, diamond has potential value, as many natural resources and untreated raw materials.

Remember the duality of a commodity. It has a use value, which satisfies a need and an exchange value.

As long as diamond remains buried deep in a mine, it is useless. It first must be located, then extracted and transported for use.

Remembering the duality of a commodity, the diamond must have a use value. It, has no utility remaining deep inside of the mine.

If it has no utility then it has no exchange value.

C= Commidity
V= Value
U= Utility


then V is 0 as well.

Use value adds nothing to the value of an object. No matter how many bourgeois economists want you to believe, you can not calculate use value.

An object either has use value or it doesn't. So the use value will either be 1 if an object has utility or 0 if it does not. If a object has no use value, it has no value.

As Marx says in that passage quoted,

The value of a commodity, therefore, varies directly as the quantity, and inversely as the productiveness, of the labour incorporated in it

You also later asked,

Good point about leaving it for a later study. Diamonds are a good example. Why did they have value in Marx's days? Were they used in industry or was the value based mostly on beauty and rarity?

The use value of diamonds and Marx's day, is the same as it is in this day. Either 1 or 0. Since diamonds have been purchased endlessly since the the 1800s, the use value of diamonds has continued to be 1 for those who found utility in them.

I hope i made things clear. To reiterate.

* A commodity has to have utility in order to have a(n) (exchange) value.
* Utility, whether an object has a use value, is is mathematically represented as a 1 if it proves useful and 0 if it has no usefulness. If a commodity's utility is 0, so is it's value.

Fallen Soldiers Fridays: Marcus Garvey

Every Friday I will post a biography of an honored hero in the revolutionary struggle. Some will be well-known freedom fighters like Huey P Newton or Che Guevera, others, so not well known. Because not all believed in the same strategy to achieve liberation, we will see a conflict of ideas. Something that we can draw upon to construct our views today.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey

"Up! You mighty race, you can accomplish what you will."
--Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Marcus Mosiah Garvey, one of the greatest leaders African people have produced, was born August 17, 1887 in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, and spent his entire life in the service of his people--African people. He was bold; he was uncompromising and he was one of the most powerful orators on record. He could literally bring his audiences to a state of mass hysteria. Garvey emphasized racial pride. His goal was nothing less that the total and complete redemption and liberation of African people around the planet. His dream was the galvanization of Black people into an unrelenting steamroller that could never be defeated. I consider myself, along with many others, as one of Garvey's children.

As a young man of fourteen, Garvey left school and worked as a printer's apprentice. He participated in Jamaica's earliest nationalist organizations, traveled throughout Central America, and spent time in London, England, where he worked with the Sudanese-Egyptian nationalist Duse Mohamed Ali. In 1916 Garvey was invited by Booker T. Washington to come to the United States in the hopes of establishing an industrial training school, but arrived just after Washington died. In March 1916, shortly after landing in America, Garvey embarked upon an extended period of travel. When he finally settled down, he organized a chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. The UNIA & ACL had been formed in Jamaica in 1914. Its motto was "One God, One Aim, One Destiny," and pledged itself to the redemption of Africa and the uplift of Black people everywhere. It aimed at race pride, self-reliance and economic independence.

Within a few years Garvey had become the best-known and most dynamic African leader in the Western Hemisphere and perhaps the entire world. In 1919 Mr. Garvey created an international shipping company called the Black Star Line. By 1920 the UNIA had hundreds of divisions. It hosted elaborate international conventions and published a weekly newspaper entitled the Negro World.

No other organization in modern times has had the prestige and the impact as the UNIA & ACL. During the 1920s UNIA divisions existed throughout North, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and Australia.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Welcome to Power to the People

Uhuru, if you're reading this then you're reading the first post of my blog.

My name is not important as the topics and issues that I will be discussing during the entire existence of this blog. I am a revolutionary. I made that word bold because quite frankly, it's a bold statement.

It's a bold statement to support the overthrow not only of the current ruling class, but the whole system from which it is founded on. A system which is exploitive, repressive and oppressive.

This system, Capitalism, has lost all usefulness and exists only as parasite.

What do i mean?

When I say parasitic, I'm talking about something like a tapeworm. If you're lucky enough to have a job in the legal capitalist economy, you go out and work. If you're black or latino, you work like a dog. If your lucky enough, with the meager wages you earned at the job, you can scrape together enough money for food, shelter and clothing. Most of the time you buy the food in your own community, which means its the worst food you can buy. Then you cook the food, throw some hot sauce on it to give it some taste and swallow it.

Now, the tapeworm doesn't do anything. It attaches itself onto to your stomach. No matter how much you eat, you never get any bigger. The tapeworm feeds itself at your expense. You just eat and eat and eat, but you're still withering away and can't understand why. Yet, the tapeworm gets bigger and bigger and bigger.

When a diamond worker in Sierra Leone works for 30 cents a day and that same diamond ends up in a display case in Tiffany's Co. for thousands of dollars.

That is parasitic.

Today, less than 3% of the trade is within Africa itself. When 97% of trade with Africa has all the natural resources leaving Africa, going to Imperialist nations in North America, Europe and Asia.

That is parasitic.

When an immigrant worker from Latin America is exploited for their cheap labor and is hired to work for less than their white peers.

That is parasitic.

Capital, or wealth, can only be produced by the working class people, whose labor it produces and reproduces. This wealth produced by the working class people is stolen from them and controlled by a small handful of capitalists.

This expropriation of value; this endless pursuit of profit comes at the expense of working class people and poor peasantry the world over. Where material needs are ignored if it doesn't involve make money.

It's time for a new system where the needs of the people come first. This can only come through the socialization of the means of production. In which case the working class is in firm control of the wealth that it produces and the economy is reshaped to meet the needs of the people. Power must be snatched from the hands of the elite and given back to it's rightful owners.

This is what we are fighting for.

Power to the People.

You have nothing to lose, but your chains.