Friday, September 23, 2016

Keith Lamont Scott and Dylann Roof. Notice the difference.


This is how the Charlotte police dealt with  Keith Lamont Scott, a black man. What we know so far is he never threatened the police, never shot a cop, never shot anyone. You can hear what he wife is saying on the video. She shot it.


This is how the police arrested Dylann Roof. Roof, a white supremacist entered a black church in Charleston SC during a prayer service and was welcomed by the people inside. He assassinated nine African Americans. He was arrested the next day.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trumka and building trades leaders join bosses, support Dakota Pipeline

An all out victory here will be a win for all workers.
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444,retired

In an article on its website, the liberal leaning Common Dreams has published a letter sent by Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions to the presidents of all the AFL-CIO.  The letter condemns those unions that support the Standing Rock Sioux in their struggle to defend their sacred lands our environment. The article reads:

In the letter, McGarvey questions top leadership for not taking a firmer position in defense of the union members working on Dakota Access and calls out other AFL-CIO member unions—specifically the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the National Nurses United (NNU), the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and the American Postal Workers Union (APWU)—for aligning with "environmental extremists" opposed to the pipeline and participating in a "misinformation campaign" alongside "professional agitators" and members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

The letter condemns the other unions and the AFL-CIO for not defending the 4500 workers who will lose their jobs if the project is halted. This horror that stopping the pipeline represents for the heads of the building trades is not unlike the horror it represents to the capitalists and investors who hope to profit from it: “Should the administration ultimately stop this construction, it would set a horrific precedent,” I quoted one leader of a pro-pipeline coalition as saying in an earlier commentary.

It's not just that the stifling bureaucracy that heads organized labor doesn't care about climate change, they don't care about their own members or workers in general. The trade unions to these leaders, especially those in the building trades, are employment agencies with them as the CEO's. They are protecting a smaller and smaller dues base that will keep them in their positions and preserve the relationships they have built with the bosses and the corporations based on labor peace.

They are junior partners alongside the developers, energy companies and other huge industries in making capitalism work, keeping profits sacrosanct and flowing in to the coffers of the rich.  It is not simply a matter of disrespecting sacred or sovereignty of Native Americans whose culture was almost wiped out as capitalism spread across this continent in the wake of a racist genocidal war. The only thing sacred for the ruling class in this country is profits. The only reason that capitalists hire workers is they have to as profit comes from the unpaid labor of the working class. It is created though the labor process as workers are paid less in wages than the value the use of their labor power creates.

Part of the reason entire areas of the country are poisoned or depopulated or that our cities are crumbling and infrastructure in decay is the capitulation of the trade union leadership at the highest levels to market forces and the rule of capital.

They worship capitalism, they see no alternative to it and what the Standing Rock Tribes and their allies are doing is threatening their world. To do this can only lead to chaos.  As the employers always do in strikes, the union leader in his letter, claims the problem is misinformation, the allies are professional agitators and people, including the Sioux themselves it would seem, that care about the natural world and the horrific damage capitalism is doing to it, are “extremists”.

Yes, many of the top union officials have gotten rich and receive obscene salaries as they push concessionary contracts on their own members. But what can they do? What will anyone do that does not see an alternative to the market and capitalism, they try to patch it up and/or watch the ship go down as they feather their own nests. They ignore the devastation, and human suffering.

While the building trades are among the worst due to the nature of the industry, they are not alone; they don’t shoulder all the blame. I don’t know the details but it is obviously an important development that other unions, notably unions that represent a considerable number of public sector workers or are service oriented, are supporting the Sioux for all the right reasons, their land rights, the protection of the environment etc.

But the entire union hierarchy is guilty.  They all support the Team Concept. They all surrender rights to capital that must be denied it if we are to survive as a species.  There should have been an internal war within organized labor a long time ago, instead, any movement from below that threatened the concessionary policies of the leadership is met with suppression. The CNA, one of the better and more “progressive” unions came in to the AFL-CIO some time ago but as is always the case when unions amalgamate and join forces, leave or join the national body, these decisions are made between leaderships. There is no protracted debate and discussion among the members; it’s a top down process.  This is true of all of them.

It is tantamount to sacrilege to criticize another leadership and a mortal sin appealing to their members.

The workers immediately affected by the halting of the pipeline should be told that they will lose no wages, that they will be employed in socially constructive employment. It’s not that they don’t care, they don’t want to lose their jobs, hurt their families, not be able to keep a roof over their heads or pay the college tuition that has sky rocketed under Democratic and Republican administrations alike.  The liberals will no doubt whine on about white privilege as most of them are likely to be higher paid white workers but this is an economic issue in the main.

I recall talking to a young middle class student many years ago after she came back from a protest at a nuclear plant in Southern Cal. I think it was called Rancho Seco. She said that the “hard hats” came out and opposed them, called them names. “See,…..” she said to me with some confidence, “,,,,these union workers don’t care about the environment.”
“They care about their jobs” I replied. “They care about their daughter’s tuition fees, they have a mortgage or rent to pay.”

The issue is if you’re going to call for shutting down someone’s source of income you’d better have an alternative.  The problem is even those unions supporting the protests and opposed to the pipeline do not have an alternative. It’s the same as opposing deforestation or certain types of mining or the defense industry. The workers movement and if we had one, a workers party must put forward an alternative to the solutions that are not limited to the confines of the market or objected to by capitalist parties and politicians. How we produce in society cannot be left to market forces.

The energy industry must be taken in to public ownership under the democratic control and management of the workers in that industry and the consumers and those sections of society that are most affected by these decisions.  The only solution is to do this with all the dominant sectors of the economy including the finance industry.

By taking capital out of the hands of the clique that posses it, how we allocate it can be a truly democratic process. It would allow a massive infusion of public capital in to social infrastructure, schools, services, transportation etc. We can place human and the environment’s needs first. These are inseparable. It is not the voice of the average worker behind that building trades leader’s letter. It is the voice of the investors, speculators and banks that control the economic and political life of society and indeed the world.

AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, the former miners’ (UMWA) leader who helped undermine the Pittston Strike in 1989-90, says the pipeline should be supported because it was "providing over 4,500 high-quality, family supporting jobs". We have seen union membership decline drastically over the last period, something that was accelerated by the smashing of PATCO in 1980, the attacks that followed and the refusal of the heads of organized labor to do a damn thing about it. Workers have had wages cut in half, benefits slashed, pensions eliminated or cut, been forced to relocate halfway across the country, and Trumka and the building trades leaders are crying crocodile tears for 4500 jobs. Let’s be realistic here, it’s revenue, 4500 times so much a month union dues in the immediate and the danger of a movement developing through a victory.

The union leaders that are supporting the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies need to address genuine fears of the workers who will lose wages but they can’t. They will support Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in this election and no solution, no massive public spending project will come to fruition. Clinton, like Sanders would have, will continue the disastrous foreign policy that is generating hatred for Americans abroad and poverty at home. She is an aggressive defender of capitalism and we will pay for that. *

Here is the Common Dreams article.

* The first sentence of the last paragraph previously read as: "The union leaders that are supporting the pipeline need to address genuine fears of the workers who will lose wages but they can’t."

This was an error. It has been corrected.

Don't let the AFL-CIO tops hide. They are to Blame for Trump/Cinton



If the reader doesn't think that this arrogant bourgeois' comments have contributed to anti-American feeling and the growth of terrorist groups you're not being honest with yourself. Quaddifi's government took far better care of its citizens than Democrats or Republicans do of theirs.


By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retried

I came under mild rebuke for a blog entry back in June where I called for the defense of Hillary Clinton. In it I wrote:

“We should be as loud in reminding people that Hillary Clinton faces this special assault, this added barrier she has to deal with in life. We must make it clear to the misogynists that we are not with them, that we do not support gender discrimination----even among the billionaires.”

Socialists must stand against sexism and racism at all times. We must defend black cops who face racism at work. We defend business owners who are discriminated against in applying for government or municipal contracts. We oppose discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color, etc. But we also understand that racism and sexism is an integral part of capitalism, woven in to the fabric of the system. These prejudices are institutionalized.

There are legitimate reasons to oppose Hillary Clinton. She’s the candidate of our enemies on Wall Street, and all the folks that meet at Jackson Hole Wyoming and Davos Switzerland. Her an her husband Bill earn millions of dollars for speaking engagements around the world in places like Dubai, a backward family run empire in the Middle East.

At Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearing for secretary of state, she promised she would take “extraordinary steps…to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.” WSJ 12-31-15. This is insulting to say the least. Goldman Sachs does not fork over millions of dollars to a politician for nothing.

Clinton is a war criminal. She called for the murder of Quaddafi and gloated over it.  Does she think this improved the image of America in the mind of a billion Muslims, most Arabs and others in the former colonial possessions of western imperialism?
She supported the absolute monarchy in Bahrain that runs a state like a family business and attacked peaceful protesters demanding reform, even imprisoning doctors that treated the iinjured.

As Secretary of State she aggressively pushed her staff to act as adjuncts of the US business community, their true function. Business Week wrote: “Science officers now extoll American clean-tech companies. Military affairs officers promote US fighter planes”, and so on.  Clinton has former Lehman Brothers banker Heidi Crebo-Rediker pushing her agenda and has ordered “promotions for embassy economic officers who act as State’s liaisons to business..”.

Clinton referred to the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak as “like family”. Both her and Obama clung to Mubarak, a staunch ally of US imperialism, until the opposition became so powerful they had to let him go. He was a notorious torturer.

While we defend all women against sexual discrimination, we have to recognize that Hillary Clinton is a violent and brutal representative of US capitalism. Like Thatcher, she is a staunch defender of her class.

The liberal British Guardian has an opinion piece on its US website today extolling the virtues of Hilary Clinton. It is an attempt to bolster her support in the face of recent polls that shows her and the racist Trump in a close race. It is an attempt to overcome the reality that so many Americans see, that both candidates have little to offer. These conclusion are drawn after years, decades of the same politics, the lies, the deceit, the call to vote for one candidate because the other is worse.  The opinion piece states:

“Clinton wants to tax rich people more than poor people, which is a sentence that no one should have to type ever again.”

OK. I don’t know how many times we’ve heard that one.  Donald Barlett and James Steele point out in their excellent book, America: Who Really Pays the Taxes, there are two tax codes, one for the rich and one for the rest of us. And the rich will benefit not only from lower rates as a swap for eliminating tax breaks, but will still have their politicians leave plenty of loopholes for them. We should remember; the big capitalists have two parties, workers have not one. Their legislators write the tax laws and they will write them to defend their interests-----always. Hillary’s statements onthis subject are hot air and workers know it. I wrote about this previously.

“Clinton believes in guaranteed paid family leave, because fathers are parents too, and mothers shouldn’t have to choose between career stagnation and going back to work while their episiotomy stitches are still oozing.”

How nice of her. She was part of an administration that threw working class women off of welfare in to low paid work. When I ran for Oakland City Council I used to say to a woman who was on welfare that it would be child neglect if she got off welfare for a low waged job. Her child had better health care with her mother on welfare.

There is not a mention in the Guardian article about workers or wages and benefits. So Clinton is pro-choice. Well as they drive wages down further that is a good thing I admit as no working woman will be able to afford a child and terminations may well increase.  Anyway, not every woman that opposes, or has difficulty with abortion is a right wing reactionary; this is a complicated. The issue of the right to abortion on demand cannot be separated from the right of a woman to have a child without being forced in to deeper poverty or having to give up a career if she has one and gets pregnant. On site childcare, higher wages, a closing of the gender gap and a free national health system must not be disconnected from abortion rights.  The term is reproductive rights, the right (of a woman) to choose to reproduce or not reproduce.

Whether its Hilary Clinton, Obama, his buddy Rahm Emanuel the former IDF soldier now Mayor of Chicago, and Arne Duncan who are all in cahoots with Bill Gates, the Walton family and Eli Broad in dismantling public education, the results will be the same.  We will see further attacks on the living standard of the US working class and women will not fair well under a Clinton regime. I am not saying there are absolutely no differences, but the downward trend will continue.

Clinton will aggressively pursue the disastrous US foreign policy that has cost the US taxpayer trillions of dollars, cost its victim millions of lives, ourselves thousands more and destabilized the global community. It is US foreign policy that has driven millions of refugees north in to Europe.US capitalism’s meddling in the South China Sea, Central Asian countries and the borders of Russia (yes my geographically challenged American  brothers and sisters, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Syria, are all close to Russia and the South China Sea, is, you guessed it, next to China). It is most likely Clinton will also continue the US support for fascists in the Ukraine and the despotic monarchies of the Middle East.

I am a member of the Green Party and will vote for Jill Stein in November.  The Green Party will be blamed if Clinton loses the election even though she now has the support of the Neocon George Bush the elder. Do you honestly think Bush would be supporting a candidate that was about to open a new and prosperous future for workers? That is about to increase the taxes the ruling class pays? The Greens and Stein will be blamed if she wins by a small margin.  The assault if she loses though will be ferocious.

But as we pointed out in an earlier commentary about this, the real blame lies elsewhere, with a force that hides in the shadows. A force that has at its disposal a huge social infrastructure of property, buildings, meeting places.  A social force that has hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of active members and 12 million more, mostly inactive by design.  These members work in vital industries, communication, energy, transportation, shipping, aircraft manufacturing etc. The US economy would come to a halt if they stopped working.

I am talking about the stifling bureaucracy that sits atop organized labor; the heads of the major national unions that form the leadership of the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win Coalition. They are wedded to the Democratic Party, representatives of the ideology of the capitalist class inside the worker’s organizations.

Every election time the trade union leadership directs the resources in their hands at the Democratic Party. They make the same old lesser of two evil argument. 

Hillary’s about the only person we’ve got who’s viable,” says one local trade union activist.

Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT(teachers) took a similar line earlier this year, “For us, an endorsement process is based on lots of different issues and lots of different variables,”  and that the AFT “has a long relationship with Hillary because of her long-standing support for working families.” It’s staggering the term “long standing support for working families” can be applied to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Have we not lost ground over the years? Have not the autoworkers, once the benchmark for an entry to the middle class in the US had their wages cut in half? Was this a bad dream I had?

So I want to reiterate. The labor leadership hides from public view. They can always blame the Democrats or “corrupt” politics in general as things deteriorate. They also blame the members whose dues money is the source of their often, obscene salaries. “They won’t come to a meeting”. Why should they? There is no incentive. They’ll hear the same things form their leaders as the do from the boss, concessions are unavoidable, we can’t win.

I was at an Amalgamated Transit Union rally some time ago and a member of a so-called revolutionary left group was handing out a flier about the cuts and what they should be getting etc. There was no mention at all in the flier of the trade union leadership. It’s as if they didn’t exist. I raised this and asked if his group was helping his comrade in the union build an opposition fighting caucus as an alternative to the present leadership. He accused me of having a “principle of attacking the union leadership” and said that they were not involved in building any caucus as “we are building a revolutionary organization.”.  I explained I don’t have a principle of attacking them, but I do have a principle of not ignoring their role altogether.

This is just an excuse for doing nothing and avoiding a struggle with the present leadership for the consciousness of their members and the working class as a whole. This is part of the struggle to change society.

I took another rank and file worker to a California State Labor Federation Convention in the early nineties. It was his first one. He was a bit disillusioned, all these paid officials all looking and acting more like lawyers than workers’ leaders. They actually see themselves as labor brokers as opposed to workers’ leaders but that’s another issue.

Then I pointed out to him other people that were there some of the main speakers, people the officials were all fawning over. There was the governor, the lieutenant governor, mayors of the big urban centers and other Democratic Party politicians.  It was the same at the Afscme International Convention and the conventions of all the major unions. Are we to think that the candidate for president or the actual president of the United States attends a meeting of this nature because there is no power here?

The most powerful single politician in the world is there to ensure that the potential power of the members of this organizations lies dormant, does not upset the status quo and that the union leadership, their agents inside, has things under control.

To ignore this is to abandoned the struggle for the consciousness of the membership and the working class as a whole because a transformation inside organized labor will have crucial positive effects within the millions of unorganized, The unions would become a pole of attraction.  This is what the union hierarchy fears most.

As we pointed out earlier, the Green Party must point this out. Our candidates must point the finger at the heads of organized labor. Be sure to separate the members from the leadership as some who want to avoid a conflict with the leadership over ideas do, they use the term “the union” which doesn’t make the distinction. Leadership has responsibilities and its actions consequences.

There is no valid excuse for reusing to do this. It would be like a group of people being stranded in the desert and only one of them possessing water, a barrel of it, but refusing to share it. That person would not be ignored. There would be a campaign against them and they would lose their control of the barrel, their resources would be taken from them by the collective power of the group.

The labor leadership has resources and they have alternatives; they could use these resources differently. They consciously choose not to. It is a disservice to the working class to not address this, to not point it out. Opposition leaders that refuse to challenge the present leadership cannot expect the members to fight when they won’t.

Those of us in the Green party must point to this potential force for change whose leaders, as one writer puts it, are the dog that doesn’t bark. Jill Stein must do it as the trade union leadership will be blaming her and us as Greens for their failures politically, and union members must do it as they build fighting caucuses in the workplaces and union halls to turn the tide and lead an offensive against the austerity agenda of the 1% and their Democratic and Republican parties.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Afscme/EBMUD workers. Unite the two locals, fight the Team Concept



Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I wanted to address my former co-workers here but of course the general points I raise apply to any of us who work for a wage, union or non-union.  I will apologize again for the video, I am not great at this nor used to speaking in to a camera. Still, I think the situation is such that we cannot continue to avoid conflict forever.  Not just the conflict that we are forced in to with the employers, but the internal struggle that has to take place within the union. Workers have lost a lot of our history here in the US. We are not accustomed to the struggles and great social movements that have taken place in our history. 

I remember a vote that was taken in negotiations once and I was in a minority. I have been in similar situations on the executive board. Once the vote was taken I was told we have to go to the membership united as a leadership. I opposed this view. Just because a person's position is a minority position does not mean that the winning position is unchallenged when it comes to the membership of an organization.

This is undemocratic and a bit of a trick. It is undemocratic because it denies the membership the right to hear both sides, or three sides if they exist. It is a trick as well because what it is really saying is that the majority's position is all the membership hears and the minority has to give up theirs.

The membership get to hear both sides and the chips fall where they may. Then the majority decision carries the day. The minority still has a right to campaign for its position but the majority position is the position of the organization. Objective developments will determine which is the right one.

Members cannot just complain about the union they have to become involved in it. And those who have different positions than the leadership are obliged to express them and make sure the membership are aware of them. Otherwise you can't blame them for not being active. Anyway, I hope what I have to say here makes the young workers think a bit about the future.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Who are the real criminals?

 http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.2798584.1474315375!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_750/tulsashot1-0919.jpg

 
by Luke Pickrell

I do not care what the police chief has to say, or who the officer was. In the end it doesn't matter. I care about the anger that will turn to determination, the fear that will turn to urgency, and the people who will turn emotions into revolutionary energy. The state executed another person today. It wasn’t done by pumping phenobarbital through his veins; or by launching a Hellfire missile; or by funding a proxy militia force; or by torture; or starvation, or exhaustion, or hunger. First came the speeding cars - sirens blaring. Then the helicopter – camera rolling. Next he was degraded – called a “bad dude.” Finally he was shot. Blood stained his white shirt. The police walked away slowly, guns still trained, and watched him die. See for yourself. Can you hear the heavy-metal soundtrack playing in the background as Terence Crutcher died? 

Much has been made by the corporate media of a bomb that went off in New York. It's called "terrorism" and is being used to numb and condition the masses and justify a massive police exercise. I'll tell you one terrorist threat: this one is armed to the teeth, praised by the president, protected by the courts, valorized in popular culture, and responsible for 3,900 deaths since 2013.  

I'll tell you about something even worse than the police: it's a society - shaped by an economic system - that produces "criminals" for the police to kill and lock away. A society - lorded over by a wealthy elite - that deprives so many the ability to meet their basic needs and leaves many communities so scarred that turning to the police is the safest option.

Said Clarence Darrow to prisoners in a Chicago County Jail

If I looked at jails and crimes and prisoners in the way the ordinary person does, I should not speak on this subject to you. The reason I talk to you on the question of crime, its cause and cure, is because I really do not in the least believe in crime. There is no such thing as a crime as the word is generally understood. I do not believe there is any sort of distinction between the real moral condition of the people in and out of jail. One is just as good as the other. The people here can no more help being here than the people outside can avoid being outside. I do not believe that people are in jail because they deserve to be. They are in jail simply because they can not avoid it on account of circumstances which are entirely beyond their control and for which they are in no way responsible...A great many folks admit that many of the people in jail ought not to be there, and many who are outside ought to be in. I think none of them ought to be here. There ought to be no jails, and if it were not for the fact that the people on the outside are so grasping and heartless in their dealings with the people on the inside, there would be no such institutions as jails.

This is how the police sells themselves to us, by feeding off the brutality of the most brutalized under capitalism. So who are the real criminals in society?

US and Japan Central Banks: From R* to r

by Michael Roberts

This is a big week for the central banks of the major economies.  The US Federal Reserve meets on Wednesday to decide on whether to resume its planned series of hikes in its policy rate that sets the floor for all interest rates domestically and often internationally.  On the same day, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) must decide whether to resume its negative interest rate policy (NIRP) by going even deeper into negative territory on its policy rate.

While both central banks appear to be going in different directions (one raising interest rates because it wants to ‘control’ a budding economic recovery and the other lowering rates in order to ‘stimulate’ a stagnant economy) in reality both banks are in a similar position.  Their reason for existence and the credibility of their strategies are in serious jeopardy.

The reality is that despite nine years of holding rates (until last December) by the Fed and despite cuts and negative rates by the BoJ, along with massive credit injections by both into the banking system through ‘quantitative easing’ (buying government and corporate bonds with the creation of new money), the economies of the US and Japan have failed to recover to anything like the trend growth in real GDP (and per capita) that was achieved before the Great Recession of 2008-9.

In effect, monetary policy as a weapon for economic recovery has miserably failed.  The members of both the US Fed and BoJ monetary committees are divided on what to do.  The Fed’s chair Janet Yellen reckoned at the beginning of this year that the US economy was on the road to achieving trend growth and full employment.  But the latest data on the economy make dismal reading.
ind-rpod
Not only has the real GDP rate slowed to near 1% with industrial production falling, but now even retail sales growth, an indicator of consumer spending and a key plus up to now for the US recovery, has dropped back (at only +0.8% yoy after inflation is deducted).
retail-sales
The Fed has been following a monetary policy theory that there is some ‘equilibrium’ rate of interest that can be identified that would be appropriate for an economy to be back at trend growth and full employment without serious inflation.  The Fed calls this (imaginary) rate, R*.  This idea is based on the theory of the neo-classical economist Kurt Wicksell.  The trouble is that it is nonsense – there is no equilibrium rate.  Even worse, the Fed’s economists have no idea what it should be anyway.  In their latest projection, they reckon R* is anywhere between 1% and 5% for two years ahead, with a best guess at about 2%. The current Fed rate is 0.5%.
r-projections
And because the US economy has failed to get back towards pre-crisis trend growth, the Fed’s economists keep revising down that estimate.
r-estimates
It’s the same with the BoJ.  Their economists have no idea what policy rate to set in order to kick-start the economy and get Japan out of a deflationary environment.  That is why they are conducting a ‘full review’ of monetary policy to be discussed at their meeting this week.

It’s clear that monetary policy has failed.  As this was a major plank of so-called Abenomics in Japan (and strongly promoted by American monetarist Ben Bernanke and Keynesian Paul Krugman), there should be egg on many faces.  The response of the mainstream economists has been to look for even more extreme measures of monetary easing: NIRP is one, helicopter money is another.

Keynesian economic journalist Martin Wolf has been calling for helicopter money.  You see, R* is not really anywhere near as high as the Fed economists think.  The major economies are in a state of ‘secular stagnation’ caused by ageing, slowing productivity growth, falling prices of investment goods, reductions in public investment, rising inequality, the “global savings glut” and shifting preferences for less risky assets.  If we recognise that R* is really low, then we can adopt the policy of handing out cash to companies and individuals directly and combine that with more public spending (with larger government budget deficits) on investment projects – something advocated by many Keynesians, like Larry Summers.

But these answers are really an admission of the failure of monetarism and monetary policy, something that Marxist economics could have told the mainstream (and some did) years ago.  Mainstream economics (like Wolf above) still fails (or refuses) to recognise what Marxist economics can explain: the capitalist economy does not respond to injections of money (or, for that matter, injections of government spending) but to the profitability of investment.  The rate of profit on capital invested is the best indicator for investment and growth, not the rate of interest on borrowing.  It is r, not R*, that matters.

I and other Marxist economists have spelt this out
both theoretically and empirically over several years. But it is not only Marxist economists. Mainstream academic economics may ignore profits as a key driver of investment and growth, but economists in investment banks (who have the money and profits for investors on the line) have started to recognise it.

First, there was Goldman Sachs, even if its analysis was locked into a neoclassical marginalist approach. Then there was JP Morgan.  In a recent repprt, JP Morgan economists reckon that business investment and profits are closely correlated – “both business confidence and profit growth are highly statistically significant in explaining capital spending.”  JP Morgan reckons that business spending “is less a function of borrowing costs than of an assessment of the outlook and profitability. On balance, this model explains 70-85% of the variation in business equipment spending growth”.
Now there is Deutsche Bank.  Deutsche Bank’s economists have noticed that “Profit margins always peak in advance of recession. Indeed, there has not been one business cycle in the post-WWII era where this  has not been the case. The reason margins are a leading indicator is simple:When corporate profitability declines, a pullback in spending and hiring eventually ensues.”  

From Q3 2014, when profit margins peaked, to Q1 2016, domestic profits have declined by a little over -$175 billion. Not surprisingly, the decline in profit growth has occurred alongside a deceleration in domestic demand.

As Deutsche points out, the year-over-year growth rate of real final sales to private domestic purchasers, “our favorite indicator of underlying demand”, peaked at 3.6% in Q4 2014 and has since slowed to 2.6% as of last quarter.  Deutsche goes on: “With that in mind, the historical data reveals that the average and median lead times between the peak in margins and the onset of recession are nine and eight quarters, respectively, which, as DB concludes, “would imply that the economy could enter recession as soon as the second half of this year.”

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Green Party: An Unprecedented Opportunity: An Unprecedented Challenge: Part 2.


Now campaigning for Hillary
A statement from Facts For Working People.

Some of us associated with Facts For Working People Blog (FFWP) are also members of the Green Party. We advocate support for Jill Stein in the presidential elections. We do not subscribe to the lesser of two evils argument. We are opposed to both Clinton and Trump and of course the Libertarian idiot. However, while we are voting for Jill Stein we keep a few things in mind. It is important for us to prepare for the different eventualities, the numerous outcomes that might arise from the elections in this extremely volatile and unpredictable period. We must also take a sober look at the different strengths and weaknesses of the Green Party and how the Party and society in general can could be changed.  

We need to explain a few things immediately and consistently. One is that we need to strongly maintain the position that Jill Stein puts forward with regard to student debt and that the Green Party could win this election.  Jill Stein correctly points out that if all those feeling the weight of student debt on their shoulders, that includes students and their families who are being held responsible for this debt, were to vote Green in November, Jill Stein could win the presidency.

Jill Stein must get credit for insisting on putting forward this position and the entire party must follow her lead. It is not an exaggeration to make this point time and time again; the GPUS could win if all those with student debt voted Green Party. We must not be intimidated by the capitalist media and by the pessimism of the majority of the middle class and those working class people that haven’t withdrawn from the process in disgust and feel they have to make their vote count by voting the lesser evil because only a capitalist politician can get elected.

However while Jill Stein's point about the student debt is a good one it is not, most definitely not, the main point that has to be made. If the right wing win this election, whether it is Trump or Clinton, this will not be the fault of the unorganized students and their massive debt burden that stands at about $1.3 trillion or that the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt, up six percent from last year.

By far the best candidate
It is obviously not Jill Steins’ intention, but her emphasis on the debt laden students could lead her enemies and the Green Party’s opponents, to blame students for her defeat should she not win. 

So we must be emphatic that if the right, either in the form of Trump or Clinton, win this election, this will not be the fault of the students. No, the fault will lie elsewhere; it will lie with the trade union leaders who control the two trade union federations, the American Federation of Labor and the Change to Win Coalition.  We know them as that dog that never barks except to echo the policies of the bosses and the Democratic Party.

There are 12 million members in the trade unions in the US. Of course only a fraction of these are active. But they are not active because they feel safe and secure. They do not feel safe and secure. They are inactive because any movement from within organized labor that attempts to drive back the bosses’ offensive is met with the full force, the full opposition of the leadership of the trade union movement and their army of full time staff. Faced with a war on two fronts, against the bosses and the disastrous polices of their own leadership, to resist seems such a daunting task, so the average worker just puts their nose to the grindstone and tries to make the best of it. 

But if the union leaders had the correct policies, that is, a policy of mass direct action and open opposition to the policies of the 1%, and the corporations that have a stranglehold on our economic and political life, millions of these 12 million could be organized and mobilized. But this is not the policy of the trade union leaders, just the opposite. The labor officialdom is terrified of a victory of any sort for the working class because they are aware it would inspire millions of workers inside and outside of organized labor. Workers would then see the unions in a different light and move toward these organizations turning them into fighting organizations, transforming them and of course in the process changing the leaderships. Victories for the working class would show that the entire policy of the union leadership over the past years was incorrect. They argue that victories are not possible so defeats and concessions must be accepted. The union leadership’s policies ensure that defeats and concessions are the result. 

Victories for the working class would radicalize the labor movement. This radicalized labor movement could then be a lever which could activate and mobilize the rest of the working class into action, unleash the anger that lies beneath the surface of US society. This is what the labor officialdom fear the most.

Consider the resources of the trade union movement and its potential power. 

One union alone, AFSCME, has 1.6 million members, approximately 3,400 local unions, 58 district councils and affiliates in 46 states according to its website. The SEIU has two million members.  The LA Labor Council represents about 800,000 workers in crucial industries and LA ranks about the 16th largest economy in the world among countries. California is the 6th largest economy in the world and is a fairly heavily unionized state with about two million workers affiliated to the State Federation of Labor AFL-CIO.

Are we to believe this is not potential power; that we are weak?

In Chicago there are 320 union locals and half a million workers affiliated to the Chicago Federation of Labor, the central labor body in the city. 

Organized labor also hands out millions of its members’ money to the two capitalist parties.  $7 million to Republicans this year so far and $40 million to Democrats. Over the years, the billions of dollars in union members dues money has gone to the Democrats. We should also consider the human capital the labor movement offers the Democrats. Afscme provided 40,000 volunteers for Mondale during his campaign in the 1980’s. Thousands of volunteers worked phone banks and walked precincts and there is also money that is spent on ads usually for Democratic Party issues. The money and resources the union leadership hands over to the two capitalist parties, mainly the Democratic Party is a disgrace. These resources should be going instead to building a mass workers party. The refusal of the union leadership to take this road is what allows the two capitalist parties, the Republicans and the Democrats to continue to dominate, to continue with their monopoly over US political life.  

If any of the candidates of the right, either Trump or Clinton win the election it will not be because the millions of students overburdened with debt do not vote. It will not be because of the vote the Green Party will get. It will be because the trade union leaders refuse to build a mass workers' party and take on the parties of the bosses, the parties of capital and the right. The trade union leaders are the spoilers. Their refusal to lead gives the right an open field every time. The Green Party leadership has to point this out on all occasions.

There are two principle reasons for this. One is because it is the way to explain how a mass workers party can be built. And two because it is the way to defend the Green Party from attack in the unlikely case Trump would win or even if Clinton wins. Whichever right wing party would win, the truth is it would be the fault of the union leaders. Leaving aside their refusal to fight on the bread and butter issues, where are their voices on social issues? Jesse Ventura is speaking out and defending Colin Kaepernick, in fact he salutes him. Where is the voice of the leadership of organized labor? It is mute.

It is vital that this reality is pointed out. Just think of what could happen. The leadership of the Green Party is blind to the danger the Party faces. Supporters of this blog distributed a flier at the Green Party Convention in Houston outlining our views. We titled it: The Green Party: An unprecedented Opportunity: An unprecedented challenge. 

This title is still correct and if the leadership of the Green Party do not rise to this challenge and do not prepare the party for all the likely outcomes of this election process, it is not ruled out that Stein could get a percentage of the vote which will be used to attack the Green Party, blaming it for the disaster that will follow a Trump or Clinton election. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t true, something doesn’t have to be true to be believed and any gains that the Green Party has made in the wake of the Bernie Sanders betrayal could be wiped out.

Imagine what would happen to the Green Party if this were to happen. If it was to come out of the elections with this millstone round its neck. The membership would be demoralized, as they would be blamed for the victory of the right especially if it was Trump. They would also be demoralized if Clinton won as she would soon show her imperialist, and anti working class policies. 

Trump could build a movement, a racist semi fascist movement with some legs in such a situation. The Green party would get some of the blame for this also. The capitalist class to the extent that they would see the Green Party to be of any significance would go after it like wild animals and tear it to pieces, finish it off. Not that this would be hard to do if the capitalist class could blame it for opening the door to a Trump administration. 

Those of us connected to this blog do not think Trump will win but events over the past period have convinced us that we cannot rule it out by any means. The dominant sections of the capitalist class still oppose him and prefer Clinton. The majority of the working class and middle class think too much of themselves to vote for the extreme right wing policies of the racist degenerate Trump. 

But if Trump were to win, and it was by a tiny margin, maybe less than the Stein vote, the Green Party would need to be prepared for the assault that would be launched against us. The only way we can do this, that we can prepare for this abuse we would receive, is by starting right away to tell the truth, and the truth is that the blame for any victory of the right would lie with the heads of organized labor, the leaders of organized labor. 

Their refusal to act politically, to act independently, prevents the building of a mass workers party and allows the political monopoly of the right wing Republican and Democratic Parties to continue to dominate. The word spoilers is used against the Green Party to intimidate and confuse. In reality it is the trade union leaders who are the spoilers. They prevent the power of organized labor from being used to mobilize the broader masses of labor and the youth to build an alternative to the right wing parties. These trade union leaders are the real spoilers. 

Unfortunately the Green Party leaders are not putting this position forward. This could lead to a disaster. Nor are the left groups and individuals in the Green Party putting it forward. One of us recently attended a 600 strong meeting at a Jill Stein event in Chicago. Stein gave a very good agitational speech in particularly against militarism. However she never mentioned the Party's new eco socialist plank. It now appears that the Party after passing this plank is now ignoring it, one of the typical undemocratic methods of consensus. 

Nor did Jill Stein mention the role of the trade union leaders. Where were the leaders and members of the 320 Chicago union locals, the half million Chicago union members who are affiliated to the Chicago federation of labor? They were not there in that hall. And there was not a single reference from any speaker to their absence. This was a disgrace and a serious political mistake.

One member of a left group which claims to be Marxist and revolutionary spoke from the platform. All he commented on was the student debt and the need to cancel it. In fact Jill Stein made a more radical speech. These left groups and individuals in the Green Party at best cover up for the right wing pro capitalist policies of the main forces that appear to be dominant in the Green Party at present. And cover up also for the trade union leaders support for the Democrats and their refusal to build a mass workers' party and oppose capitalism.  This too is a very bad mistake.

The GP must explain something else beside the role of the trade union leaders.  We have to explain that in reality we want to win the Presidency and if the union leaders led we could win the Presidency, but winning the Presidency is not the central issue. The Green Party can still win; the working class can still make gains, even if it does not win the Presidency. It can do so in this way. By building a mass direct action united front movement against the capitalist offensive. By building a mass direct action movement against the 1% at the center of which would be the Green Party fighting for its eco-socialist program, fighting to become a workers party and changing its own internal life to one that is democratic and not the undemocratic paralyzing internal life of consensus. 

And while being clear on this and on insisting on explaining this, we must also be clear and explain that even if Stein won the Presidency tomorrow with its present policies where it refuses to fight for eco socialism, where it refuses to build itself into a workers party, and along with this with its undemocratic internal life it could not solve the problems of the country anyway. The party is not prepared to govern.

If the GP can win 10% 15% off the vote and does so while transforming itself into an eco-socialist party, that means fighting for eco-socialism not just having it in its platform and never mentioning it, if the GP wins 10% to 15% of the vote and in doing so transforms itself into a workers party and with a changed internal life and commits itself to mass direct action against the capitalist offensive it can transform the political life of the country. 

It can put tens of millions on to the streets, into occupations and mass strikes in the workplaces. In doing so it can shake up the entire US political life, build a movement that can throw back the capitalist offensive and prepare the ground for ending capitalism in this country. US capitalism will not be ended by electoral means. Mass direct action movements of the working class will end it. It will be ended when capitalism loses control of, loses its domination over, the consciousness of the working class and when the working class develops independent thinking, sees itself as a class for itself and builds its own organization of tens of millions. 

The struggle for this involves fighting on a number of fronts. With the tiny left resources now inside the Green Party it involves the building of a non-sectarian left current which can reach out to broader layers of workers and youth. There are already obstacles to this as a caucus formed at the Convention called the Watermelon caucus (Green on the outside red on the inside) has not been developed in any way and has now been deemed not a caucus at all. The argument is that for technical reasons it cannot be a caucus. 

These are just excuses. So do not call it a caucus call it a network. There is no difference in reality, all is needed is a non sectarian left current or network within which ideas can be developed and advocated and organized around. The obstacles to developing a non sectarian left current or network are being put there by the party leadership and other forces in the Party such as the sectarian groups who want to use the GP just for recruitment to their own small sect and so do not want the Watermellon group or any other non sectarian democratic left current or network to develop.

Let us build such a non sectarian left current in the GP, let us turn out in these elections and in general and conduct a dialogue with the working class, elections are dialogues with the working class. As we do so let us not forget that while elections are important in the struggle for the consciousness of the working class, in our dialogue with the working class we have to be clear that electoral politics will not end US capitalism. This will take the mass direct action of the working class organized in a mass workers party of tens of millions. 

Third-Party Candidates Left off Stage

by Luke Pickrell

The ruling class in America will have its two parties front and center for the first presidential debate, and surely will hope its pick, Clinton, will hit the high notes. In fact, the Democrats and Republicans will be the only two parties on stage, now that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein have officially been cut from the televised spectacle. The New York Times - unofficial stenographer for the state - presented the news with an article that makes its sound like exclusion from the televised debate is the individual fault of Johnson and Stein; if only they'd tried a little harder! (I was compelled to see what the paper said about Obama in 2012: "President Obama has governed from a deep commitment to the role of government in fostering growth, forming sensible budget policies that are not dedicated to protecting the powerful, and saving the social safety net to protect the powerless").

Of course, the deck is stacked against third party candidates and has been since the capitalist class realized bourgeois democracy is the best strategy for extracting surplus value and maintaining social control. In the name of "democracy" we have been given the choice to choose the next representative of the oppressing class - the next person to bail out Wall Street; apologize for unending wars for profit; conduct attacks on families, workers, immigrants, and students; oversee the American gulag and police terror squads; feign interest in stopping climate change. All of this is not to say that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein will solve the problems list above and bring about a revolution of the working class. Rather, the exclusion of popular discourse other than that spurting from two parties inexorably linked to richest people in the world shows the lie of "democracy" under capitalism.

The richest Americans are finding it a bit harder these days to sell their wares to the majority of the Americans. Trump and Clinton are the two most unpopular candidates from their respective parties, ever. Clinton is lagging in popularity among young people, and is turning to Sanders to suck them up for the party.

Today - between schmoozing businessmen at the Economic Club of Detroit and appealing to the military at the Commander-in-Chief Forum in New York City - the two corporate parties don’t even both to hide the identity of the puppet masters who pull the strings. The grandest master of them all is capitalism, as the need to maximize profit and maintain social control means more war, more pollution, and more attacks on living standards no matter the consequences. The ruling class has nothing but contempt for the workers in society. Nothing living is too valuable to defame or kill, nothing is too sacred to commoditize and turn into a profit.

Allowing voices other than Trump or Clinton to be heard on a national platform wouldn't necessarily be a threat to capitalism and the wealth of the 62 richest people in the world, but it might make keeping social control in the U.S. just a little harder. People might start getting the idea that an alternative to the status quo is possible. And that would be a very dangerous thing. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

AFSCME' Convention. No Change Here. More Defeats for Working People.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders with Hillary Clinton who could be the first female US president to bomb the Middle East
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Not much has changed in the American Federation of State, Country and Municipal Employees if the latest Afscme Magazine (Afscme Works) is anything to go by. This edition comes on the heels of AFSCME’s 42nd International Convention held in Las Vegas in July.

Afscme President, Lee Saunders' column could have been written prior to the 1980 election, the 1988 election and probably most national elections since WW2. It’s no wonder most workers don’t read official union publications as after an issue or two it’s pretty much the same regurgitated content. A cheerleading sheet only works when victories, real victories, are on the board.  Organized labor in the US has suffered defeat after defeat for decades. True, a job in the public sector is still preferable to the private in the main but with the autoworkers safely out of the picture for a period, pacified through a powerful offensive waged by a combination of the auto bosses and the national leadership of the UAW, the public sector is the last bastion of unionism and under a fierce assault.

I find the reports of the convention so nauseating I can’t read on but let me share a little of it with the reader.

President Saunders boasts of AFSCME's commitment to the fight. The Convention passed a resolution denouncing governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois. No, wait, it was more militant than that, the resolution “denounced virulently anti-worker” Gov. Bruce Rauner. Get me a glass of water for Christ’s sake, this union leader is going too far.

Hold it, there’s more. They passed a resolution “demanding a Senate vote on US Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland” writes Saunders.  What courage. Is it appropriate here to quote the heroic Martin Luther King when he said, “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.”

As they always do they have the Democratic Party presidential nominee as a key speaker and sure enough Hillary Clinton, (of predatory black males fame) the friend of working families, racial minorities and the poor told them, “I will be by your side in this fight every step of the way”, when she’s not bombing the Middle East of course. The workers of the former colonial possessions have an historic opportunity here, to be bombed not only by the first black US president but the first female US president.

Afscme, you have my back and, and as President I’ll have yours” Clinton told the convention and as a special treat she promised, “When I’m president, working people will always have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House.” It’s like a broken record isn’t it. No wonder the American people have given up on electoral politics altogether.

There’s more of this cheerleading on page 9 where a couple of in house writers offer a slightly more detailed report but the same worn our content. Pravda couldn’t do better.  AFSCME and SEIU, tradition rivals for members which results in more revenue and more of their members hard earned money they can hand over to the Democrats, have agreed to “voluntarily partner” more closely.  The assault on the labor movement is so fierce it’s forcing traditional enemies among the bureaucratic clique that sits atop organized labor to make temporary pacts.

But the reader may remember the split in the AFL-CIO some time ago when the Change To Win coalition was formed that included SEIU, Here, The Teamsters and the UFCW. There was much excitement but the split was not about anything substantial, it was not about opposition on the part of the CTW to the Team Concept and concessions. It was about electoral politics, pressuring the Democrats and trying to get more of them in to office.

Saunders made the argument well for supporting Hillary, “Consider the alternative…” he writes, “This election is a choice between an unstoppable champion and an unstable charlatan.” He should not have been allowed to make this statement without being challenged as he and the entire leadership of organized labor at the national level are primarily responsible for there being no alternative. It is his fault we have no choice other than billionaires, and representatives of the 1%

Saunders heads a union, AFSCME, with some 1.6 million members, approximately 3,400 local unions, 58 district councils and affiliates in 46 states according to its website. District Council 37 in NYC had 127,000 members when I was active. With members in huge urban centers like NYC, Philladelphia, Chicago and other cities this is tremendous potential power if we all stop working.  SEIU has two million members and the AFL-CIO about 12 million. This is the case despite the reduced membership due to the concessionary polices and outright betrayal of the labor officialdom from the top down. Organized labor still has the potential to stop this economy from functioning and if a fight was launched it would draw in to its orbit and inspire millions of workers and the poor.

Organized labor has structure, money and numbers. Saunders should not be able to get away with the worn out argument that we have to vote for one rotten candidate of capitalism because the candidate of the other party of capitalism is worse.

He should fight within the AFL-CIO as an executive board member for this position, for the AFL-CIO to build a party of workers and the middle class that can challenge the two parties of Wall Street.  I am supporting Jill Stein and the Green Party. Saunders could at least do that; it would send shock ways through Washington if he did.  A significant turn out for the Greens even if they didn't win, would change the balance of class forces in the US, it would be a positive step forward as it would make people consider that an alternative to the twin parties of capital is possible. It would send a message to the US ruling class that their monopoly of electoral politics is not secure.

Of course he won’t do that, none of them will do that without being forced to from below.  It’s not the obscene salaries and perks although that is part of it. The primary reason they are terrified of the potential power of organized labor is that they have the same world view as the bosses. They accept capitalism, they accept that profits are sacrosanct and the market is the answer to all things. To mobilize their membership to act in our own interests and rely on our own strength on the job and in the political arena through building our own party can only lead to chaos. They cannot conceive a world without Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates. A political party governs and workers cannot possibly govern we are born to be led.

 The Union hierarchy is ideologically bankrupt, this is the main issue.

Every local should send a letter or pass resolutions directed at the AFSCME executive board condemning Saunders for his failure to campaign for a labor/workers party. For supporting anti-worker candidates like Clinton and handing over billions of dollars of their members hard earned money to finance the election of these candidates.

That is a small gesture,  but in the last analysis, you can’t avoid an internal union struggle to change the present leadership and its disastrous policies.  Putting it off until our backs are against the wall might be too late. Better to fight now while we can.

Blairites suspending Labor Party members to deny a vote for Corbyn.

The right wing in the British Labor Party, the Blairite clique, is doing what it can to prevent Jeremy Corbyn from being re-elected as party leader.   A friend and comrade, Roger Silverman from the Workers International Network who rejoined the Labor Party as part of the huge surge that has followed Corbyn's election as leader, has just been suspended from the party which denies him a vote in the leadership election. Roger is appealing his suspension and has sent the following letter to the Labor Party General Secretary Iain McNichol. Roger's father was the former Labor Party MP Sydney Silverman who was a leading figure in the abolition of the death penalty in Britain. RM

Dear Mr McNicol,

In response to your letter dated 14th September, I am writing to give you notice of appeal against the decision to suspend my membership of the Labour Party and to discount my vote in the leadership election. I wish to register my protest at this arbitrary action and my intention to resist it most vigorously.

I note that the only evidence cited in support of my suspension refers to my "comments on social media between 19th July and 2nd August". It seems, therefore, that my only "crime" was to participate in the widespread debate taking place throughout society on the current crisis in the Labour Party. Among my comments I included what I consider a scientifically accurate and objective assessment of the true nature of the "New Labour" phenomenon. As with the contributions of others from all sides in this general debate, my arguments were politically sharp; they could not, however, in any shape or form be construed as personally "abusive". I have checked most painstakingly all my postings on facebook and can find not a scrap of justification for your innuendo that they violated your procedural rules - rules, incidentally, that I fully support - against "racist, abusive and foul language". I challenge you to find any such language in my name. Apparently, for some Labour Party officials, honest forthright political debate is not allowed.

Most Labour Party members would consider it perfectly legitimate to use emphatic language to characterise a political current which represented, after all, an explicit rejection of time-honoured fundamental Labour principles, such as public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange; political representation of trade-union interests; and opposition to colonial wars.

I come from a long Labour family tradition. My father was a Labour MP for 33 years until his death; I would describe him as the Jeremy Corbyn of his time. He, too, was on occasion subjected to unjust bureaucratic victimisation: expelled from the Parliamentary Labour Party (along with others including Michael Foot) for opposing nuclear weapons in line with conference policy, and accused (ironically) of disloyalty to the Leader. My mother too was a Labour member of the London County Council. I remember canvassing for Labour in general elections as far back as in 1959, as a young teenager. I was active in the Labour Party for decades: in Hampstead, Brighton Kemptown, Barons Court, Hammersmith North, and more recently West Ham. Like many others, I left the Labour Party in revulsion during the Blair era; and, along with hundreds of thousands of others, I rejoined the Labour Party in the surge of enthusiasm that greeted Jeremy Corbyn's election.

Amid all the prevailing destructive acrimony, one positive effect of this leadership contest is that hundreds of thousands of people have been motivated to join in a debate about serious political issues. To try to suppress this debate with unilaterally imposed mass suspensions and retrospective cancellation of votes is an affront to Labour's identity, as proclaimed on my membership card, as a democratic socialist party.
I am particularly outraged at the decision to cancel my vote in the leadership election. I insist on immediate restoration of the validity of my vote until such time as the allegations against me, along with thousands of other unjustly disenfranchised bona fide Labour Party members, are proved; otherwise, there could be only one rational conclusion. My suspension and theirs could only be interpreted as a blatant exercise in vote-rigging on a massive scale.

Please inform me in detail of the precise charge against me; its date and source; copies of the minutes of any meetings, internal e-mails or reports setting out the grounds for my suspension; and the date, venue and all other relevant details of my appeal hearing.

Yours fraternally,

Roger Silverman