Category Archives: Economics

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

The Communist Manifesto (Das Kommunistische Manifest), originally titled Manifesto of the Communist Party (German~Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei) is a short 1848 publication written by German political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.  It has since been recognized as one of the world’s most influential and widely read political manuscripts of the 20th century.

It presents an analytical approach to class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism’s potential future forms. Marx sought to differentiate his brand of socialism from others by offering a scientifically based theory predicated on an “objective” study of history- which he saw a continuous process of change and transformation.  Just as feudalism evolved to mercantilism and then to capitalism, thus capitalism eventually gives way to socialism and then communism as the result of class struggle.

The book contains Marx and Engels’ Marxist theories about the nature of society and politics, that in their own words, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”.

Karl Marx

The Manifesto demonstrates that capitalism, due to its internal contradictions, inevitably moves from crisis to crisis. “And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises?” asks the Manifesto. By the conquest of new markets, which only paves the way for “more extensive and destructive” crises.

The essential condition for the existence and power of the capitalist class is “the formation and augmentation of capital.” Yet inevitably as the capitalist class develops, so the working class develops proportionately.

The Role of the Working Class:

“Working class,” in Marxist terms, does not mean only factory or industrial workers. Nor does it merely refer to anyone who is impoverished or exclude those who cannot work – the unemployed, the disabled, and people who care for children or relatives for example, or school students and those in further or higher education – who would be working for a living, if circumstances were different.

Workers are those who “must sell themselves piecemeal” for a wage or salary.

Friederich Engels

“All previous historical movements were movements of minorities… The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interests of the immense majority. The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air.”

Contents ~    Preamble
I:   Bourgeois and Proletarians
II: Proletarians and Communists
III: Socialist and Communist Literature
IV: Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Communist_Manifesto

http://www.marxist.net/index.html

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Unconditional, unrequited love? | By Kevin Alexander Gray

(Note: edited version, “Obama and Black America: Who Has Whose Back?”’ published in August 2011 edition of The Progressive | updated data –WashPost/ABC News Poll: Big Drop In Black Support For President Obama )

“I’ve said to you on many occasions that each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality. We’re split up and divided against ourselves. And there is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives. There is a recalcitrant South of our soul revolting against the North of our soul.”

—Martin Luther King, “Loving Your Enemies,” November 17, 1957

I ran into Congressman Jim Clyburn at Brookland Baptist Church, here in Columbia, during the 2010 midterm election season while campaigning with South Carolina Green Party senate candidate Tom Clements. As we all exchanged pleasantries, I jokingly mentioned to Jim that I had gotten his campaign mail with the picture of him and President Barack Obama on it. He seemed genuinely pleased, so much so that he walked me over to check out the special poster he had at his campaign material table. The poster was also of Clyburn with the commander-in-chief. Clyburn appears to be making a point in the President’s ear. Obama looks and leans as though he’s listening. The U.S. flag is in the background. At the bottom of the poster read the caption: “JIM HAS THE PRESIDENT’S EAR, AND WE MUST HAVE THEIR BACKS!!!”

Clyburn didn’t really need Obama’s help in getting reelected in his safe district, which is 57 percent African American. And he’s never had any serious opposition to his seat. But it would have taken some help from Obama for him to keep his spot as the second-ranking Democrat in the House after the drubbing their party took in the midterm elections. That help was not forthcoming. When the dust settled, Clyburn wasn’t even offered the minority whip job, which went to Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Clyburn was given the new title of assistant Democratic leader. Clyburn has fewer staff than before, he is no longer involved in vote-counting, nor is he a key party messenger. Clyburn’s demotion has not sat well with the Congressional Black Caucus, which he used to chair. But it typifies Obama’s indifference to African Americans across the board.

Last December, when he was polling in the mid-nineties among blacks, during a White House press conference a black reporter asked Obama about grumblings among the black leadership. He replied: “I think if you look at the polling, in terms of the attitudes of the African-American community, there’s overwhelming support for what we’ve tried to do.”

Yet even as he boasted, that same month the black unemployment rose from 15.7 percent to 16 percent, almost double the Dec. 9% national rate (Aug 2011- 9.1%). Black male unemployment rose from 16.3 percent to 16.7 percent as 1.3 million black men were out of work. For black women it jumped from 12.7 percent to 13.1, or roughly 1.2 million unemployed black women. And the unemployment rate for black teens stood at a staggering 46.5 percent (by contrast, the rate for white teenagers was 23.6 percent).

When Obama entered office, the black unemployment rate was 12.6 percent. But rising unemployment still didn’t dampen black optimism going into his second year. According to a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University poll conducted Jan. 27-Feb. 9 of this year, 85 percent of blacks said they were optimistic about the future course of the economy while 72 percent of white held that view. Eighty-four percent of blacks felt hopeful about their personal financial situation, compared with 73 percent of whites.

Obama and Black AmericaObama is right that the African American community gives him overwhelming support, but it’s not as overwhelming as it used to be. In the most recent polls blacks see “the economy” or unemployment as the nation’s top problem with one in seven or 2.9 million African Americans out of work — the highest number in nearly a quarter century. And some economists argue that 16%+ rate isn’t the “real” or accurate rate. They say that if one takes into account those people who want work and cannot get it and have stopped looking, those not counted such as the 900,000 incarcerated black men and women, and those recently released from the military– the “real” underemployment rate may be 25% or higher.

Back in 2008, nearly all (95 percent) black voters cast their ballot for Obama. Presently, they give him approval ratings just above 80 percent although there are polls with higher numbers.

Blacks still seem to have Obama’s back, but does he have theirs? Continue reading

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The Novocaine Effect | Obama and Black America | By Kevin Alexander Gray

“It’s like when you go to the dentist, and the man’s going to take your tooth. You’re going to fight him when he starts pulling. So he squirts some stuff in your jaw called novocaine, to make you think they’re not doing anything to you. So you sit there and ’cause you’ve got all of that novocaine in your jaw, you suffer peacefully. Blood running all down your jaw, and you don’t know what’s happening. ’Cause someone has taught you to suffer – peacefully.”

Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), Message to the Grassroots (1964).

There’s a picture of Barack Obama next to one of Jesus in the front window of the small, black art gallery that I drive past almost every­day. And I still see someone wearing an Obama t-shirt maybe once a week, but sometimes it’s the same guy. If you’re looking, you can a find a variety of shirts in just about every corner store where I live. They’re on the wall, next to the Bob Marley, Tupac, Biggie Smalls and Al Pacino “Scarface” t-shirts. You can get an Obama hat and a presidential calendar there too. There are still a few Obama yard signs in the neighborhood, usually in a window. A few people still have an Obama bumper sticker on their cars. Not as many as some might think. Certainly not as many as the number of Confederate flags on vehicles in this part of the country.

Racial solidarity is the mood that helped get Obama into the White House. The traditional source of power and sur­vival among blacks, it is also the novo­caine of the moment, a numbing agent as people suffer through what, despite the more hopeful official forecasts, feels like a full-blown depression where I live. The pride is real, but so is the pain, and it’s coming in sharp stabs despite the shot. The novocaine is still working, just not so well, and the result is a discomfiting confusion.

In late September I spoke at a ‘‘Black Male Summit” about 80 miles north­west of Columbia in Rock Hill, South Carolina, which is famous in civil rights’ lore as the first stop in the Deep South for the Freedom Riders testing the 1960 Supreme Court decision outlawing ra­cial segregation in all interstate public facilities. Rock Hill is where Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activist John Lewis and another man stepped off the bus and were beaten by a white mob. The town is mentioned in Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land” – only the “poor boy” on the Greyhound is lucky as his bus “bypassed Rock Hill” in the song. Things are still tough in the town just south of Charlotte. Since February of 2008 the number of jobs here has fallen by 15 per cent, and the average salary for people lucky enough to be employed is about $28,000. In June of this year, Yvette Williams, a 15 year-old black girl, was shot and killed by two police officers after she robbed a grocery store. The two of­ficers fired on Williams five times after she pointed a gun at them and refused to drop it, according to Rock Hill Police Chief John Gregory. He said he felt the police response was justified. A witness who lives across the street from where the shooting happened, told the local paper she was in bed when she heard shots and got up, looked out her window and saw the girl fall to the ground. She said she then saw an officer shoot again.

The theme I was asked to speak on in Rock Hill was “How do we restore dignity back to black communities?” My initial response was I didn’t know we’d lost it. But I knew the idea was a nod to Obama’s tough-love trick bag. “Post-racialism” is nonsense, but as an ideological concept it’s real, with real political consequences. On the right, it is license for white blow­hards to go on any racist tirade they like so long as they don’t actually broadcast the word “nigger.” In the black communi­ty it’s alive wherever blacks argue among themselves as to whether they are indi­vidually or collectively responsible for the conditions they face, or if they’re as criminal or immoral or lazy or violent or promiscuous or stupid as racists believe them to be. Sherman Porterfield, one of the organizers of the event, was quoted in the local paper, “Obama talked about it,” this claimed loss of dignity; “he has challenged us. The question now is, are we up to the challenge? Our young peo­ple are dropping out of school in record numbers, and it’s our fault. Nobody is shooting water hoses at us anymore. But we are allowing our young brothers to shoot each other. And that is not accept­able.” Continue reading

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Filed under 1ST LOOK | KAG 2009 Essays, American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Black Politics, Civil Rights, Congressional Black Caucus, Economics, Human Rights, Obama Administration, Pan Africanism | Afrocentrism | Africana Studies, Political Ideology, racism, The Bush Administration, The Obama Administration, Third Party Politics, white supremacy

March for Jobs at the G20! | Bail Out the People Movement

march4jobsWhy are we demanding jobs or income at the G-20 Economic Crisis Meeting in Pittsburgh in September?

30 million people in the U.S. are unemployed or underemployed – We say NO!

 

 

What is the G-20?

It’s a group of Treasury officials and central bankers from 20 countries, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Its goal is to protect bank profits, whatever it costs the people of the world.

The U.S. delegation is led by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve System (The Fed). They organized a bailout of the banks, insurance companies and stock brokerages that totals $12.6 trillion–or $42,105 for every adult and child in the U.S.

How much is a trillion dollars? It is 1,000 billion. And a billion is 1,000 million.

The Federal Reserve controls this money, yet most people have never heard of it. The Fed has seven governors, all bankers, appointed by the U.S. President for 14-year terms. George W. Bush appointed Bernanke Chairman of his Council of Economic Advisors and then head of the Fed. The Fed operates in secrecy, even from Congress, yet makes decisions affecting whether we work, have homes, or eat.

Geithner, the former chief of the NY Federal Reserve Bank, worked with the Fed under the Bush administration to devise the bank bailout. He invented the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) and eight other programs to funnel taxpayer money into the banks. His top aide is from Goldman Sachs Bank. He changed bank regulations to prohibit congressional audits of the Federal Reserve.

Who is representing the people at the G20 conference? No one!

Profit recovery for banks –
Jobless ‘recovery’ for workers
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60 Members of Congressional Progressive Caucus Say “No Public Plan, No Conference”

August 17, 2009

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Sebelius,

We write to you concerning your recent comments about the public option in health insurance reform.

We stand in strong opposition to your statement that the public option is “not the essential element” of comprehensive reform. The opportunity to improve access to healthcare is a onetime opportunity. Americans deserve reform that is real-not smoke and mirrors. We cannot rely solely on the insurance companies’ good faith efforts to provide for our constituents. A robust public option is essential, if we are to ensure that all Americans can receive healthcare that is accessible, guaranteed and of high-quality.

To take the public option off the table would be a grave error; passage in the House of Representatives depends upon inclusion of it.

We have attached, for your review, a letter from 60 Members of Congress who are firm in their Position that any legislation that moves forward through both chambers, and into a final proposal for the President’s signature, MUST contain a public option.

Sincerely,

Raul Grijalva
Co-Chair
Congressional Progressive Caucus
Lynn Woolsey
Co-Chair
Congressional Progressive Caucus
Barbara Lee
Co-Chair
Congressional Black Caucus

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Dead Prez | Stimulus Plan

“My grind is my stimulus plan”

Dead Prez performing in London

Dead Prez performing in London

Alexander Billet reviews Pulse of the People, a new album from Dead Prez.

BY NOW, we’ve all heard ad nauseam that President Obama is a “fan” of hip-hop. He has Jay-Z on his iPod, he loves its “entrepreneurial spirit” and he’s still famously referred to as “the first hip-hop president.”

But if anything can be taken from Obama’s recent address to the NAACP, it’s that his understanding of hip-hop is, shall we say, a bit different from most people’s. Rehashing the tired rhetoric from his campaign, he claimed that there were now “no excuses” for Blacks not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.

And though he said nary a word about the Supreme Court decision ruling against affirmative action for Black firefighters in Connecticut, he went out of his way to say, “Our kids can’t all aspire to be LeBron or Lil Wayne…I want them aspiring to be president of the United States of America.”

It’s safe to say that Obama doesn’t have Dead Prez on his iPod. If he did, he might hear this:

He go to school just to battle MCs in the cafeteria
Fellas sleep in third period to the theory that
The president is Black
So he should try to be that
Better yet put a gat on your back
And go to Iraq

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Ralph Nader | Obama’s Surrender to Insurance and Drug Companies

counterpunch

 
 
Ralph Nader (photo by John Murray)

By RALPH NADER

Never much of a fighter against abusive corporate power, Barack Obama is making it increasingly clear that right from his start as President, he wanted health insurance reform that received the approval of the giant drug and health insurance industries.

Earlier this year he started inviting top bosses of these companies for intimate confabs in the White House. Business Week magazine, which proclaimed recently that “The Health Insurers Have Already Won” reported that the CEO of UnitedHealth, Stephen J. Hemsley, met with the President half a dozen times.

These are the vendors. They and their campaign slush funds cannot be ignored in the power struggle over the legislation percolating in the Congress. One public result of these meetings was that the drug industry promised $80 billion in savings over ten years and the health insurance moguls promised $150 billion over the same decade. Mr. Obama trumpeted these declarations without indicating how these savings would be guaranteed, how the drug companies could navigate the antitrust laws and what was given to the health care industry by the White House in return.

We have now learned that one Obama promise was to continue the prohibition on Uncle Sam from bargaining for volume discounts on drugs that you the taxpayer have been paying for in the drug benefit program enacted in 2003.

(Ralph Nader photo by John Murray)

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