AlterNet.org: Bill Fletcher, Jr. http://www.alternet.org/authors/bill-fletcher-jr-0 en Black America and the Passing of Fidel Castro http://www.alternet.org/human-rights/black-america-and-passing-fidel-castro <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1067864'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067864" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Fidel Castro immediately had a special significance for countless Black Americans.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/fidel_castro_-_mats_terminal_washington_1959.jpg?itok=yoae63fg" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>It is impossible to discuss Fidel Castro outside of an examination of the Cuban Revolution. And, while I hear that there are many Cuban Americans dancing with glee upon news of the death of President Castro, I know that the emotions within Black America are and will continue to be quite different.</p><p>For any Black American who knows anything about the history of the Western Hemisphere, both Cuba and Haiti have a special significance. Haiti, of course, for successfully ousting the French in 1803 and forming the second republic in the Americas; a Black republic. Cuba, in 1959, kicked out the USA, the Mafia, and a corrupt ruling class that had enforced racist oppression against most of the Cuban population.  In the cases of Haiti and Cuba, their audacity in the face of a racist imperialism brought forth the wrath of their opponents. How dare the Cubans stand up to the USA? How could a country of all of these ‘brown’ and ‘black’ people insist that they should determine their own destinies?</p><p>Thus, Fidel Castro immediately had a special significance for countless Black Americans.  When I was quite young I remember my father telling me how his brother-in-law, a professor at Johnson C. Smith University, had sat watching the television as pictures were shown of Cuban exiles entering the USA after the 1959 Revolution. His comment to my father was that all that he saw were white-looking Cubans stepping off the planes or boats. No brown and black Cubans. This told him something about the nature of the Cuban Revolution and its leader, Fidel Castro.</p><p>Castro further endeared himself to much of Black America when he visited the USA and took up residence in the Hotel Theresa in New York’s Harlem. It was there that he met another icon, Malcolm X. It was situating himself in the Black community that shook much of the US establishment and told Black America that something very unusual was unfolding 90 miles off the coast of Florida.</p><p>In the weeks, months and years to come there will be exhaustive examinations of the work and life of Fidel Castro and his impact not only on Cuba but the world.  If you have not read Castro’s “spoken autobiography”, <a href="http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Fidel-Castro-My-Life/Ignacio-Ramonet/9781416562337"><b><i>Fidel Castro:  My Life</i></b></a>  I strong recommend it. I will not try to offer anything approaching an analysis of the man and his times.  What I can say, however, is that there are certainly criticisms to be offered, and differences of opinion of the dynamics of the Cuban Revolution. That is all fair game. At the same time, it has been a rare moment when a leader, particularly of a small country, has been willing to thumb his or her nose at the capitalist juggernaut and seek a different path. Added to this has been, particularly in a Western Hemispheric context, the challenge of taking on racist oppression and approaching it as the cancer that it is, a disease to be removed.</p><p>The one and only time that I met Fidel Castro was in January 1999 when I was on a TransAfrica delegation led by the organization’s first president, Randall Robinson. At the last minute, the night before we were to leave Cuba, we were informed that we would have an opportunity to meet with President Castro.</p><p>It was close to midnight when we were informed that we needed to board the bus and head to his office.  When we arrived we walked into a waiting room in anticipation of the meeting. Suddenly a door opened and out came an old man in an olive green uniform. Yes, it was Castro. I think, quite irrationally, I was expecting the young Castro of the 1960s. But here was someone about the same age as my father. He circulated around the room and was introduced to our delegation. We then retired to another room to begin our meeting.</p><p>It is hard to describe what happened next, and probably equally hard for anyone to believe it. We sat in the room with Castro until about 3:30am.  He never lost a beat.  He never seemed tired.  In fact, as the minutes and hours went forward, he seemed to gain energy! Castro spoke with us about the Cuban Revolution, race, and many other issues.  Yes, he spoke a lot, but we were transfixed. And, when we asked him questions, he would consider the matter and always offer a thoughtful response, rather than retreating into rhetoric.  It was particularly illuminating when he informed us that the Cuban Revolution had underestimated the power of racism. As he said at the time, when the 26th of July Movement (the revolutionary organization that led the anti-Batista struggle) took power they thought that it was enough to render racist discrimination illegal and that should settle the matter. The entrenched power of racism, even in a society that was attempting to root it out, was more substantial than they had anticipated.</p><p>Hearing this from Castro represented a special moment. There has frequently been a defensiveness among Cuban officials about matters of race in Cuba, despite the tremendous advances that they have made, advances probably of greater significance than any other country in the Western Hemisphere.  Yet, manifestations of racism remain and, to our surprise, Castro was prepared to address them.</p><p>Fidel Castro’s demise comes as no surprise. He had been facing health challenges for some time. Nevertheless, given the number of attempts on his life and the other challenges that he had faced, there has been a bit of magical thinking for many people, believing that he would, somehow, always be there.</p><p>For many of us in Black America, Castro represented the audacity that we have desired and sought in the face of imperial and racial arrogance. While it is unfortunate that some of us have withheld concerns and criticisms out of respect for Castro and the Cuban Revolution, it is completely understandable. After all, this was the country that deployed troops to Angola that helped to smash the South African apartheid army and their Angolan allies. This was the country that has deployed doctors in the face of countless emergencies, to countries that could never afford such assistance. This is the country that has studied and come to understand hurricanes in a way unlike most in the hurricane region, so much so that it offered assistance to the USA in the aftermath of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, assistance that the then Bush administration turned down.</p><p>Let his soul rest easy. And, let the Cuban people continue on their way free of outside interference. Theirs path has been one upon which they have insisted.  Fidel Castro was one important component in making that happen. And, if that was not enough, he and the Cuban Revolution shook the world of the 20th century.  </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1067864'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067864" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 26 Nov 2016 10:55:00 -0800 Bill Fletcher, Jr., AlterNet 1067864 at http://www.alternet.org Human Rights Human Rights World fidel castro america black cuba castro death passing Cuban Revolution us Cuban American Why Progressives Need a National Electoral Strategy—and Fast http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/why-progressives-need-national-electoral-strategy-and-fast <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1054428'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1054428" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">We face a potential right-wing populist threat.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/11360949604_47ba7dfcfa_z.jpg?itok=t2K_Qnre" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Every electoral cycle gives me the sense of “Groundhog Day” within progressive circles. It feels as if the same discussion take places over and again. No matter what has transpired in the intervening years; no matter what mass struggles; no matter what theoretical insights; progressives find themselves debating the relative importance of electoral politics and the pros and cons of specific candidates. These debates frequently become nothing short of slugfests as charges are thrown around of reformism, sell-outs and purism. And then, during the next cycle, we are back at it.</p><p>What has struck me in the current cycle are two related but distinct problems. First, progressives have no national electoral strategy to speak of. Second, elections cannot be viewed simply or even mainly within the context of the pros and cons of specific candidates. In fact, with regard to the latter, there are much bigger matters at stake that are frequently obscured by the candidates themselves.</p><p>Let’s begin in reverse order. In a recent exchange on Facebook I had with a friend, he raised the point that Hillary Clinton holds some positions to the right of Donald Trump. His, apparent, point was that in a final election, should it come down to Clinton vs. Trump, it would actually not make much of a difference who won. Someone I do not know responded to my friend by pointing out that Hitler was to the “left” of certain candidates as well and that the issue of intolerance needed to be the point of focus.</p><p>Looking at the platform or views of a candidate reveals only part of the equation. It gives one a sense of the candidate. What is just as important are the social forces that have assembled around a particular candidate and the direction of their motion. Let’s go back to Hitler for a moment. Within the NSDAP (Nazi Party) there were forces on the left and the right, of course these terms being quite relative. The Brownshirts, otherwise known as the SA (Stormtroopers) proselytized in favor of a “national revolution” in Germany. Hitler and his SA supporters advocated some very radical solutions to the problems facing Germany. They consciously utilized left-wing symbolism (such as a red flag as background to the swastika) in order to appeal to the working class and other disgruntled forces crushed by the economy. They did this while promoting antisemitism and militarism. On June 30, 1934, after assuming power and after cementing his alliance with the German military and major elements of the economic establishment, Hitler and the SS crushed the SA and any further discussion of a “national revolution.” While the SA may have sincerely been interested in their perverted notion of a “national revolution,” the Nazi movement had built a base and a set of alliances that was interested in something quite different: a radical restructuring of capitalism, the end of political democracy, and a relocation of Germany among the world’s powers.</p><p>Right-wing populism, whether in its fascist or non-fascist form, can assume a posture and articulate a language that can appear left-wing. History has demonstrated this time and again. Yet right-wing populism is NOT “right-wing + populism” but is, instead, a specific integral phenomenon known as “right-wing populism.” It is irrationalist, xenophobic, frequently anti-Semitic, racist and misogynistic. And it is a movement, rather than just a few crazed individuals.</p><p>Looking at Trump and his platform tells us something but not enough. An examination of his base and their objectives is just as important. The white revanchism that exists among his base, i.e., <em>the politics of racial and imperial revenge</em>, flows through and from the Trump campaign like waste through a sewer. The economic anger of the Trump base is something that is very real, but it is anger seen through a racial lens and articulated through coded racial language. </p><p>The Trump and Cruz forces, to broaden this discussion a bit, are not only intent on seizing the White House, but they also want to alter the entire political landscape. The work by the Right-wing at the local and state levels, in this regard, cannot be ignored. Efforts to promote the conditions for a Constitutional Convention have been underway for years by the right-wing, with a clear aim of overthrowing 20th century victories. This corresponds with, though is independent of, plans by candidates, such as Trump and Cruz, to eliminate various institutions, e.g., Department of Energy, Education, that are, at least in theory, to address broader popular needs.</p><p>For these reasons, the near exclusive focus on the individuals known as Trump and Cruz can be misleading. What is contained in their base? What does one make of the violence associated most especially with the Trump campaign? Neither of these campaigns, as idiotic as they may appear, are reality TV shows. These are spearheads of a social movement that is very deeply rooted in the settler colonialism and racism of U.S. society.</p><p>This brings us to the matter of the lack of a progressive electoral strategy. It is in large part because (a) progressives are very divided about the relative importance of electoral politics, and (b) because of our near exclusive focus on the candidates, that there is no coherent national progressive electoral strategy. This does not mean that people lack ideas. There are important forces out there ranging from the Working Families Party to the Progressive Democrats of America to more local formations such as New Virginia Majority and New Florida Majority that are articulating creative strategic approaches. Yet, this work is less than the sum of its parts (with no criticism implied of these groups). It is, however, the case that when most progressives think about electoral politics they think less about strategy and more about a particular candidacy or set of candidacies, more often than not candidacies that have not emerged out of the progressive movements.</p><p>A progressive electoral strategy begins with an assumption: that progressives are interested in not only conducting defensive battles, but actually winning power. This is a complicated assumption because there are many progressives who appear to not be particularly interested in winning power unless winning power means the death of capitalism, i.e., either capitalism dies or we sit back and criticize the system. Such views end up reinforcing cynicism but also pessimism about the ability to win any change. Constant defensive battles are demoralizing and disempowering.</p><p>Even for those of us who believe in <em>system change and social transformation</em>, there is a vital need for an interim approach, if only to address the dire needs of masses of people for basic survival (including matters relative to the environment). This need is a call for a fight for political power, and such a fight necessitates a strategy.</p><p>I frequently mention an experience I had in Texas about a year ago. I gave a talk about the political situation following which there were comments from the audience regarding the terrible political circumstances in Texas. I listened carefully and then asked the group: “How do we win power in Texas?” Well, the group was stunned. For many—I could tell—my question seemed to come out of nowhere and was over the top. Yet I went on to explain that progressives need to rethink the manner in which we approach our situation. Texas, for instance, is changing in many important respects, including demographically. Thus, the question I believe that we should be asking concerns the social movements in Texas, and which are key? I would also ask about the politics of different cities? Further, what alliances can and must be built? I would suggest that such questions need to be asked of every state in the USA.</p><p>A seriousness about winning power means, to borrow from Sun-Tzu, to <em>know your enemy and know yourself.</em> With respect to the fight for power, this means that we must understand the terrain in which we are operating; the nature of power in the USA; the nature of our enemies; the nature of both our tactical and strategic allies; and the growth and decline of various progressive social movements. Putting this together helps place progressives on a road towards winning rather than a road towards the glorious and heroic defeats with which too many of us are familiar.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1054428'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1054428" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 09:09:00 -0700 Bill Fletcher, Jr., AlterNet 1054428 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 The Right Wing populism right wing populism right wing donald trump election 2016 electoral politics Shattered Peace Talks and Grinding Conflict: How U.S. Support Bolsters the Philippines' War on Dissidents http://www.alternet.org/world/us-support-fuels-philippines-war-dissidents <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '855174'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=855174" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The government of the Philippines has continued to harass the opposition and extrajudicially kill dissenters.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/399px-arroyoandobama.jpg?itok=7RzKgzF8" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>“Another one was killed. Another one had disappeared.” Human rights violations…keep on happening without let up. In the nine (9) years of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s reign, more than a thousand are victims of extrajudicial killing and 206 forcibly disappeared. 1,099 tortured, 2,059 were illegally arrested. On the other hand, in a span of two (2) years of President Noynoy Aquino’s presidency, Karapatan [1] documented 137 victims of extrajudicial killing, 14 of enforced disappearance, 72 of torture, 269 of illegal arrest.</em> [Statement of the End of Impunity Alliance, April 25, 2013, delivered by Father REX RB. Reyes, General Secretary, National Council of Churches in the Philippines]</p><p>******</p><p>At the end of April 2013, barely covered in the US media, the government of the Philippines unilaterally ended peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the coalition led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has led an insurgency for over forty years. In violation of the protocols established for these talks, and after repeated harassment of the NDFP—including the imprisonment of several NDFP negotiators—the government of the Philippines apparently felt comfortable that it could act with impunity.</p><p>The on-going conflict in the Philippines rarely garners much interest and attention in the USA except and insofar as the issue of “terrorism” is raised. The manner in which alleged terrorism is used to describe the conflicts in the Philippines tells one a great deal about the motives of the Philippine government and their US government supporters.</p><p>The insurgency led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, its military wing (the New People’s Army) and the NDFP can be understood as the continuation of an on-going conflict that commenced when the US illegally annexed the Philippines at the end of the Spanish-American War (1898). An indigenous Philippines revolutionary movement, on the verge of defeating the Spanish, was smashed by US invaders who initially presented themselves as friends of the Filipino people. In a war that cost at least 1.5 million Filipino lives, the US subjugated the population and controlled it outright until 1946, at which point the country received nominal independence. This was followed by another guerrilla insurgency against the neo-colonial regime in Manila, initiated by the Communist-led Hukbalahap movement [2].With the active involvement of the USA, the Huks—as they were referenced—were crushed. Corrupt regimes, very compliant with interests of the USA, followed ultimately resulting in renewed guerrilla war led by a refounded Communist Party of the Philippines. This was joined by a very separate insurgency in the southern island of Mindanao, where the largely Muslim Moro population fought for self-determination. Two main formations emerged in Mindanao, first the Moro National Liberation Front and later the split-off, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Ultimately a very strange outfit appeared that received a considerable amount of US media attention: Abu Sayyaf.</p><p>Although there was hope for peace when Corazon Aquino replaced the ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, war continued, largely at the instigation of elements of the Philippine military who were not interested in peace with either the NDFP or the Moro insurgents in Mindanao. Peace talks have been going on between the government of the Philippines and the NDFP since the mid-1990s, but with little progress having been made. The objective of the government has been to, in essence, force the NDFP to capitulate rather than address any of the issues raised by the NDFP. Separate discussions have taken place in Mindanao, leading recently to a framework for an agreement with the MILF. During the NDFP-CPP-NPA insurgency the USA has done nothing to encourage a negotiated settlement, rather remaining a staunch supporter of succeeding Filipino governments, beginning with that of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.</p><p>In the aftermath of Al Qaida’s 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA, the US role in the Philippines shifted. In 2002, the US declared the Philippines to be the second front in the war against terrorism. Then, out of nowhere, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that the USA was putting the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army on the list of terrorist organizations. This step not only did nothing to encourage a peaceful settlement of the conflict, but instead upped the ante by treating the CPP/NPA as the equivalent of Al Qaida, a completely fraudulent analogy given the ideologies, histories, strategies and tactics of both organizations. Interestingly, the USA did not put either the MNLF or the MILF on the terrorist list, but instead placed great attention on the role of the shadowy Abu Sayyaf organization, a group that many observers have actually tied to the Philippine government, i.e., as a sort of Wizard of Oz created to scare the population, influence world opinion, and justify the further militarization of conflict in the Philippines. The further militarization has brought with it a greater involvement by the USA. This has included the use of the so-called Visiting Forces Agreement in order to station US troops in the archipelago, engage in joint trainings as well as certain joint military exercises.</p><p>Though negotiations continued with the NDFP—up through this past April—they did so under very difficult conditions. One of the oddest conditions, referenced earlier, has been the imprisonment of members of the NDFP negotiating team, the “peace consultants.” The government of the Philippines chose to violate protocols on the status of negotiators and allege various crimes on the part of the NDFP team members. Such a step is not only outrageous in the realm of diplomacy, but undermined the ability of the peace talks to proceed. Of those NDFP team members imprisoned, the NDFP noted in a recent statement that those team members released were released not due to the good will of the Philippine government, but rather as a result of litigation taken by representatives of the negotiators.</p><p>The break off of negotiations must also be understood in the context of the adoption, by the Philippine government, of a policy known as Oplan Bayanihan. A well-crafted document, Oplan Bayanihan outlines steps that the Philippine government seeks to take in order to gain internal peace and security. Reading this document one could conclude that the Philippine government seeks to narrow military operations and engage in activities to win over the population. In fact, there is an interesting statement in the Executive Summary of the report that reads in part: “To highlight the AFP’s [Armed Forces of the Philippines—author] mandate as wielders of legitimate force, military operations shall focus only on the armed components of insurgent groups. Under this concept, the AFP shall employ distinct methodologies for the NPA, MILF, and ASF and other terrorist groups [3].” Such a statement stands in contrast to the actions of the Philippine government and its allies, raising the provocative question: who are the real terrorists?</p><p>If terrorism is the use of violence against non-military targets in order to advance political objectives, the Philippine government should be indicted, at the minimum, in the court of world opinion. Terrorist attacks, euphemistically referenced as “extrajudicial killings” take place on a regular basis in the Philippines against opponents of the government and social reformers. Human Rights Watch noted that while extrajudicial killings dropped in 2012, not a single case has resulted in prosecution since the assumption of office by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino. Compounding this are the, apparently, disingenuous actions of the Philippine government when it responds to pressures in connection with human rights abuses. Karapatan noted, for instance, that among the nine members of the interagency body to investigate extrajudicial killings are the chiefs of both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, institutions that have regularly been criticized for complicity in such abuses. [4]</p><p>Extrajudicial murders and disappearances are, by definition, not official actions and are not necessarily committed by people in uniforms. An apparently common form for carrying out the murders has been what are called “riding-in-tandem liquidation units,” whereby two people on a motorcycle pull up and assassinate a particular target.</p><p>Extrajudicial murders and disappearances, along with bogus arrests followed by torturing, is not aimed solely at supporters and alleged supporters of the insurgencies. Indigenous organizations, including those that have found themselves engaged in struggles against multinational corporations (such as against mining interests), have faced the wrath of the Philippine government both officially and unofficially. [5]</p><p>The Philippine government has repeatedly attempted to dismiss charges of human rights abuses committed by the government and its allies, but to no avail. The extent of the documentation is considerable and difficult to refute. Nevertheless, compounding the difficulties of this overall situation has been the silence of the US government in the face of the charges of human rights abuses, along with their continued support for the regime itself, all in the name of allegedly fighting terrorism.</p><p>There is little question but that pressure from the US government and a de-militarization of the involvement of the USA in the Philippines would transform the situation. That said, there is little incentive for the Obama administration or any past administration, to alter its relationship to the Philippines. The Philippines exists as a neo-colony and base area for the USA. In the changing geo-politics of Asia, the Philippines is a front-line country in the efforts to surround the People’s Republic of China. The strange dance in which the USA and China engage includes periodic bouts of military tension. The US government, despite its need for an economic relationship with China, fears Chinese influence. Among other reasons this helps us understand the increased US involvement in the Philippines.</p><p>With apparent US support, the government of the Philippines believes that it is positioned to crush the CPP-NPA-NDFP insurgency by, literally and figuratively, bleeding it, through extrajudicial murders and disappearances, arrests, executions as well as through efforts at cooptation of units of the New People’s Army. There is no particular reason to believe that their efforts will succeed, however. What they will do is demonstrate the manner in which state terrorism is a source of instability and horror for both intended and unintended targets.</p><p>What is missing from the approach of the Philippine government was summarized directly by Dr. Carol Araullo, Chairperson of BAYAN (the New Patriotic Alliance), when she noted, with regard to the roots of the insurgency:</p><p>Despite all the claims of a reinvigorated economy, the hard reality of a chronic jobs crisis, unrelieved poverty and socio-economic inequity remains. Landlessness in the vast countryside continues to be pervasive and industry has been stagnant in the past half a century…Unless a program for national industrialization, genuine land reform and an independent foreign policy is pursued, unjust socio-economic conditions in the country will continue to provide fertile soil for the revolutionary movement to persist and grow with the support of the people. [6]</p><p>How many times have we heard something similar? And, in the absence of pressure from within the USA, how often is such a viewpoint ignored by the US elite?</p><div id="sdfootnote1"><p>[1] Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights</p><p> </p></div><div id="sdfootnote2"><p>[2] Which gained a great deal of credibility during World War II in leading the resistance to the Japanese occupiers.</p><p> </p></div><div id="sdfootnote3"><p>[3] Executive Summary: AFP Internal Peace and Security Plan, p.vi.</p><p> </p></div><div id="sdfootnote4"><p>[4] 2012 Karapatan Year End Report on the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines, p.4. The full report is riveting.</p><p> </p></div><div id="sdfootnote5"><p>[5] See, for example, the Karapatan report, pp.37-8.</p><p> </p></div><div id="sdfootnote6"><p>[6] “The Aquino government is insincere in peace talks with NDFP,” <a href="http://www.bayan.ph/site/2013/04/the-aquino-government-is-insincere-in-peace-talks-with-ndfp/">www.bayan.ph/site/2013/04/the-aquino-government-is-insincere-in-peace-talks-with-ndfp/</a></p><p> </p></div><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '855174'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=855174" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 08:34:00 -0700 Bill Fletcher, Jr., AlterNet 855174 at http://www.alternet.org World World philippines war on terror Crisis in West Africa: Where Neocolonialism Meets Fundamentalism--With Dire Consequences for Mali's People http://www.alternet.org/world/crisis-west-africa-where-neocolonialism-meets-fundamentalism-dire-consequences-malis-people <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '788872'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=788872" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The French intervention in Mali further complicates a descent into hell which that country has been experiencing for the last two years.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/800px-malian_soldiers.jpg?itok=TeskpDYq" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The entrance of the French military into the Malian civil war further complicates a descent into hell which that country has been experiencing for the last two years. Mainstream media attention has largely focused on the emergence of right-wing Islamists associated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and the threat that this poses to the culture and people of Mali. Yet little background is presented regarding the whole conflict, particularly the circumstances that resulted in the unfolding disaster.</p><br /><p><strong>Up to the precipice</strong></p><p>The country known as Mali was carved out of what was once known as “French West Africa.” Named after the famous empire of Mali (roughly 1200-1600 AD), Mali included various ethnicities, much like other former European colonies in Africa. In many cases these ethnicities had little in common, a fact that became particularly important with regard to the Tuareg people in the northern part of the country.</p><p>The Tuareg, part of the larger so-called Berber population of northern Africa, engaged in non-violent and violent confrontations with the Malian state almost from the time of independence in search of greater autonomy. This has been a source of constant instability.</p><p>Like most of the former French colonies, Mali remained of interest to France. During the years of Malian President Modibo Keita, efforts at genuine national sovereignty were pursued, but with the overthrow of Keita, French neo-colonial involvement regained the initiative. Mali, a country rich in natural resources, including gold and uranium, has remained important to global capitalism.</p><p><strong>Algeria, Libya and “unintended consequences”</strong></p><p>The Algerian civil war of the 1990s, along with the Libyan uprising (hijacked by the NATO intervention), had a direct impact on Mali. The Algerian civil war, which counterposed the military government against right-wing Islamists, was filled with atrocities committed by both sides, including atrocities attributed to the fundamentalists actually carried out by forces linked with the government. In the wake of the military defeat of the fundamentalists, a politico-military realignment took place in the camp of the right-wing Islamists and with it, the creation of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). AQIM has become one of the more successful and well-resourced of fundamentalist/terrorist organizations in Africa. But more importantly, its rise has been used as a pretext by the USA, starting some years ago, for greater US military involvement in the Sahel region of Africa under the guise of fighting terrorism.</p><p>The trajectory of the Libyan uprising, which began as a non-violent protest and then escalated into a full-blown civil war in the aftermath of repression by the Qaddafi regime, provided a basis for further instability in the region. In the aftermath of the NATO intervention, which derailed efforts at justice and national sovereignty, the situation in northwest Africa became increasingly unsettled. The source of that instability was the combination of armaments possessed by the now fallen Qaddafi regime that ended up flooding northwest Africa, along with the exit from Libya of many of the late Qaddafi’s former African allies. AQIM along with dissidents in northern Mali were major beneficiaries of this flood of arms.</p><p><strong>The revolt</strong></p><p>Taking advantage of a weak Malian government and the arms they obtained in Libya, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA—the French acronym; Azawad is the name given by the Tuareg to the region), launched an uprising. Better organized than the Malian army, they quickly moved to victory, largely seizing northern Mali. Joining in this uprising, however, were various right-wing Islamist groups, including those with ties with Al Qaeda.</p><p>The Malian army, finding itself repeatedly defeated by the MNLA, turned against the recognized Malian government and launched a coup d’état. This illegal act was broadly condemned in the international community and did nothing to garner real support for a termination of the conflict with the Tuareg.</p><p>In the north of Mali, events shifted unexpectedly. Right-wing Islamists, who had allied with the MNLA, now turned on them. It quickly became clear that their objectives for the uprising in northern Mali clashed with those of the MNLA (the latter seeking an independent northern Mali or “Azawad”). Despite the fact that the MNLA had organized and led the uprising, an alliance of right-wing Islamists revolted against the MNLA and took control of northern Mali. The right-wing Islamists, including but not limited to the AQIM, continued the war with the Malian government, pushing south. As things unraveled for the Malian government, the West African community (ECOWAS) became increasingly concerned about ‘spill-over’ into neighboring countries, including both an expanded Tuareg uprising as well as right-wing Islamist terrorism.</p><p><strong>The moment</strong></p><p>The Malian government, which has proven unstable, corrupt and with little credibility, has found itself unable to defeat the right-wing Islamists. Its cry for help resulted first in discussions about an ECOWAS military intervention in order to stabilize the situation, and, ultimately, to the French intervention with ground troops and aircraft. A new twist is that the MNLA, based in Niger, announced on January 20th that they were prepared to join in the struggle against the right-wing Islamists.</p><p>The Malian civil war(s) contains within it sources of profound regional instability. Despite the domination of the right-wing Islamists in northern Mali, the underlying issue is political. Specifically, without addressing the historic demands of the Tuareg population of northern Mali, irrespective of the right-wing Islamists, in addition to the on-going tensions between the Tuareg and ethnic groups in the south of the country, Mali will gain no stability. For that reason alone the French intervention, rather than helping to bring about a resolution to the conflict, may very well extend and expand the conflict.</p><p>A second point of note is that the fragile condition of too many African nation-states leaves them incapable of standing up to both corruption and neo-colonialism, not to mention varying forms of fundamentalism (Christian, Muslim, ethnic, etc.). While this is a legacy of colonial rule and the, often, bizarre national borders created at the time of independence and the lack of real economic independence, this situation will not be resolved by anyone but Africans. The involvement of the African Union and ECOWAS can be positive, but only to the extent to which it advances national sovereignty, peace, justice and African unity. Insofar as either of these institutions is perceived as an agent of outside—imperial—interests, they cannot fulfill this historic task.</p><p>A third point is that it is not possible to ignore right-wing Islamism, and specifically, right-wing Islamist terrorism. The objectives of the right-wing Islamists, e.g., AQIM, are thoroughly reactionary and destructive, as can be seen by the reign of terror that they have wrought in northern Mali. Their political misogynism along with their fixation on a mythical Islamic past, do not serve the cause of economic and social justice, not to mention African unity. Though they claim the banner of “anti-imperialism,” they are no more genuine anti-imperialist than were the Japanese fascists in World War II who claimed to be fighting for “Asia for the Asians,” while instead advancing their reactionary aims. About this point, one cannot afford any confusion.</p><p>In this situation, the USA must desist from its manipulative and provocative role. Beginning during the George W. Bush administration, in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, the US escalated its military presence in the Sahel region of Africa. Though terrorism—Muslim and/or non-Muslim—was not the major threat to Africa (whereas, civil wars, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and imperial robbery were), the US insisted on a militarization of the region, including close collaboration with undemocratic regimes. This involvement did not advance democracy, and it certainly did not stop the advance of terrorism. Rather, this irresponsible interventionism coupled with the NATO hijacking of the Libyan uprising, has resulted in exactly the opposite.</p><p>A political settlement must be brought about in Mali. This must include the full and unconditional reinstatement of democratic rule in the country. The military must return to the barracks. The French military must also return to their bases…in France, and withdraw from this conflict. ECOWAS and the African Union, however, have a different role. They must step up to the plate and provide multiple levels of support to a process of democratization and stabilization. They are needed as intermediaries in settling the military conflict. They must bring the right amount of pressure to bear on the Malian military to return legitimate political rule to the country. They must help the people of Mali sort out the real and perceived ethnic conflicts that have divided the country. This includes, but is not limited to, the question of the Tuareg.</p><p>The role of the African Union and ECOWAS is not, primarily, a military role. Though legitimate authorities in Mali may, at some point, need military assistance as part of the process of stabilization, such a move must be made by the people of Mali rather than the French, the USA, or for that matter, any of the agents of global capitalism within the various African ruling elites. This role for ECOWAS and the African Union must be respected and supported by the United States, rather than undermined and subverted in order to advance the interests of US hegemony and global capitalism.</p><p>It is up to the people of the United States of America, particularly, but not exclusively, those of us of African descent, to take a stand on this matter and show real solidarity with the people of Mali rather than fall prey to the demagoguery and misinformation that dominates the mainstream airwaves.</p><p>Silence is not an option.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '788872'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=788872" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 04 Feb 2013 09:33:00 -0800 Bill Fletcher, Jr., AlterNet 788872 at http://www.alternet.org World World mali The Significance of Jerry Tucker http://www.alternet.org/labor/significance-jerry-tucker <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '735861'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=735861" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The October 19th passing of noted labor activist Jerry Tucker sent shock waves throughout the labor movement.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/uaw.jpg?itok=d4DxBgHm" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The October 19th passing of noted labor activist Jerry Tucker sent shock waves throughout the labor movement.  Whether one was a reform activist in organized labor or an activist within the emerging workers’ organizations outside of traditional collective bargaining, the name, work and reputation of Jerry Tucker was iconic.</p><p>It is important, particularly for younger activists who may not be particularly familiar with the life and work of Jerry Tucker, to appreciate the significance of his contributions.</p><p>Jerry was not only a partisan of trade union reform but suggested the need for a “labor reformation,” a term he popularized at the time of his run for the presidency of the United Auto Workers in the early 1990s.  For Jerry, more than most labor leaders emerging on the national stage in the 1980s and early 1990s, the problems facing organized labor could not be placed into the simple category of insufficient attention to organizing.  For Jerry, the entire fabric of late 20th century trade unionism had been called into question by, among other things, the reorganization of global and domestic capitalism.  Thus, the response to this challenge necessitated not only structural changes, but a change in the essence of trade unionism.</p><p>Jerry Tucker became especially well known as a result of two major contributions in the 1980s.  The first was his pioneering work on what later became known as “running the plant backwards,” i.e., a tactical approach of putting pressure on an employer without going on strike.  Tucker emphasized the sort of internal organizational change that unions would need to undertake in order to carry out such an approach.  It was not simply a matter of not going on strike and taking on certain symbolic actions but rather the engagement of the members in using their own knowledge to develop a program and then carrying out that program with increasing levels of pressure on the employer; pressure the employer least expected.</p><p>For many in organized labor this contribution made Tucker a hero, but his frustration and disagreement with the leadership of the United Auto Workers put him onto a collision course with the leadership of much of organized labor.  Tucker and other reformers in the UAW constituted an opposition caucus known as New Directions.  Building in workplaces around the country, New Directions set out to build a mass base to fundamentally alter the UAW.  In taking on the challenge of reforming the UAW, New Directions differed from other union reform movements in that they had a broader social vision regarding their own role as well as the role that they sought the union to fulfill..</p><p>What Tucker, and other New Directions leaders, appreciated was that the UAW had ceased to be a vibrant organization representing the working class<strong>,</strong> but had instead become an institution of corporatism and conciliation.  The UAW saw in “partnership” and “joint-ness” with the auto companies the salvation for the union, not to mention various benefits that many in the bureaucracy enjoyed as a result of their accommodation with management.  Having abdicated Walter Reuther’s “social unionism”, which suggested that the union should speak out on broader issues, the UAW not only withdrew as a major force for external change but took an increasingly conservative stand with regard to representing their members, not to mention addressing the needs of potential members in non-union auto plants and auto parts plants.  Despite  the  expansion of auto manufacturing in the South the  UAW  has been unable  to  organize  auto workers  in the  South and has shied away from the approach toward organizing that Tucker and other New Directions partisans proposed.  In the face of demands for concessions by the employers, the UAW generally collapsed even when they tried to paint the concessions and collapse in favorable terms. Tucker and the New Directions movement organized with the intent of reversing these tendencies.  Their efforts, while valiant, were ultimately unsuccessful.</p><p>Tucker, after a failed effort to secure the presidency of the UAW, found a life outside of the UAW.  Tucker was the movement’s strategist <em>extraordinaire</em>, spending immense amounts of time on labor battlefronts around the USA when called upon.  Whether the Detroit Free Press workers, meat packing workers at the Hormel plant in Minnesota represented by Local P-9 (originally of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union), healthcare workers in St. Louis, or the Staley workers who faced a lockout, Tucker<strong>’s</strong>counsel and support was sought after by workers.  </p><p>Jerry could be very opinionated at times, but what was striking was his ability and interest in listening.  Jerry was always seeking new knowledge.  As legendary as he was, he did not allow that fact to get in the way of his learning more from any one.  He always wanted to hear from younger activists or those activists from struggles with which he was less familiar.</p><p>Jerry’s commitment to the education of worker activists was, perhaps, one of the other striking features of his work.  Too many union leaders—and social movement leaders generally—assume that the mobilization of members is all that is necessary in order to revitalize the union movement.  Tucker realized that a labor reformation can only take place when linked to a change in consciousness among the workers themselves.  With this in mind, the New Directions movement, under Jerry’s leadership, began organizing schools for workers around the country.  Dubbed “Solidarity Schools”, these multi-day programs introduced worker activists to the broader world of class struggle and what the two of us have coined as “social justice unionism.”  The Solidarity Schools expanded beyond a base of auto workers and, in time, came to include workers from various sectors.  They were rehabilitated by the Center for Labor Renewal, a network which Jerry co-founded in 2006.</p><p>A person, let alone a leader, of the stature and character of Jerry Tucker does not come around every day.  Jerry commanded respect without being command-ist.  He was visionary and inspiring, and absolutely audacious when it came to taking on opponents.  But at the end of the day, he was one hell of a great friend and colleague.  We count ourselves lucky that we had the honor of knowing him.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '735861'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=735861" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 30 Oct 2012 10:16:00 -0700 Bill Fletcher, Jr., Fernando E. Gapasin, AlterNet 735861 at http://www.alternet.org Labor Economy Labor News & Politics Jerry Tucker obituary labor labor activist labor movement union uaw How to Get People to Go After Bankers and Financiers and Stop Attacking Public Employees http://www.alternet.org/story/156245/how_to_get_people_to_go_after_bankers_and_financiers_and_stop_attacking_public_employees <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Bill Moyers talks to experienced organizers Stephen Lerner and Bill Fletcher, Jr. about what it will take to really revitalize the labor movement.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1341941415_screenshot20120710at1.28.58pm.png?itok=vE8j013r" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>  </p> <div class="transcriptcontent"> <p> The Supreme Court’s doubling down on Citizens United wasn’t the only decision this session that seemed designed to strengthen the grip of corporate America and the superrich. Another one – Knox versus SEIU Local 1000 – the Service Employees International Union – would diminish the financial power of organized labor by restricting union dues used for political action. The Knox decision is just the latest attack in the ongoing battle against labor. And like the fight in Wisconsin and other states, it focuses on public sector unions – in part because they’re the greatest remaining bastion of labor’s power.</p> <p> The strength of organized labor was once a muscular way for working people to push back against plutocracy. In union there is strength -- that was the old saying and it was true. But the percentage of union members in the American workforce has declined in the last sixty years from 35 to 12 percent, and labor has faced a pounding series of setbacks of which the Supreme Court’s Knox decision is just the latest. And yet, with corporations continuing to put the squeeze on employees, with joblessness and inequality rampant, now would seem the perfect time for people to turn back to unions to fight for them against the monied interests. Why haven’t they?</p> <p> Stephen Lerner has spent more than three decades as a labor and community organizer, and as architect of the Justice for Janitors campaign. He was director of SEIU’s Private Equity project – which worked to expose the Wall Street feeding frenzy that would end in catastrophe especially for the working class. Bill Fletcher Jr. graduated from Harvard and went to work as a shipyard welder, along the way becoming a labor activist fighting for racial justice and union democracy. He has worked with SEIU and the United Auto Workers, among others. He’s the author of this upcoming book. “They’re Bankrupting Us – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions.”</p> <p> Welcome to both of you.</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: Thank you.</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: Thank you.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: Corporate profits are at an all-time high. Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all time low and fewer people are employed than anytime in the past 30 years. Why isn't this the opportunity for an old fashioned, good old fight for the working people?</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: The question is less is it the right moment to organize, but what are the ways we organize and what are the things that we have to start doing that really let us take on corporate power.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: Such as?</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: Massive, non-violent civil disobedience. The labor movement was built when it occupied factories which weren’t, wasn't legal either. That we need to look at a set of tactics and be willing to take risks and things that we haven't done in years because when somebody wants to destroy you, giant corporations, they pass laws to make it illegal for you to exercise your democratic rights. Then we need to look at movements of the past and other countries. And what they've done again and again is that we're willing to go to jail. We're willing to take tremendous risks to win our country.</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: The difficulty in developing and moving in the direction that Stephen is suggesting is that the leaders themselves have to begin by recognizing that this is not 1970. That, that there's no going back to what we once had.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: You're talkin' about the leaders of unions?</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: Leaders of unions.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: And you're saying they don't recognize it?</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: They don't. They continue, they are fearful, Bill, of fundamentally becoming organizations that are viewed as disreputable. They're very worried about being in a situation where they're no longer invited to the White House dinners. And what we have to understand is that unions did not get started based on White House dinners. They got started based on exactly what Stephen is suggesting. That you have to be ready to throw the dice. And most of the leaders of the movement, unfortunately at this point, remain fearful of shaking the table. We need battle stations. A new level of vitality, a new level of tactics, new strategies, new forms of organization that we have not previously used. That's where we are.</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: I think many of us at least have spent our life sort of waiting for the great leader to come and, you know, come and save us. And I actually am not waiting. I don't think that there's going to be somebody in Washington that's going to emerge and do that. I think instead we have to look at where are the battles that we can have that we can both win but also become symbolic and exciting that inspire and move people. Because the labor movement's suffering a version of Stockholm Syndrome. That we've been held captive by capital for so long, we're so used to losing, that we almost identify with our oppressor. And that part of what has to happen here is brilliant strategies and tactics, but there's another piece which is that we just have to be willing to say slowly dying is worse than having a really big fight and trying to win.</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: Let's use this Wisconsin example. Labor has spent very little time focusing on educating its own membership. Thirty-eight percent the families of union members voted for Walker as opposed to voting for the recall. People look at their self interests in very different ways and it's up to the unions to really create a framework where there's a dialogue. Not simply telling people what to believe, but really a dialogue about what's happening with working people in the United States. There are 16 million union members.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: Private and public?</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: Private and public. The organized labor needs to look to educate those 16 million people, because it's not simply about building alliances between the leaders of different unions and various community organizations or social movements. It's that the members of the unions have to feel themselves that they're part of something larger. People have to have that bigger picture. Unions can do that. They should be doing it now. But that necessitates putting resources that many leaders feel could best go elsewhere.</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: It's too easy to blame the bad guys. That sort of corporations try to destroy unions 'cause that's what they do. Is that the labor movement, really for 30 years, 40 years, has, with, you know, with some exceptions of great work, not been focused on organizing private sector workers. It's not been focused. And I think workers are much more likely to organize if they think the consequence of organizing is life gets better than you get your brains blown out, which is really, when I knock on a door and say, "Do you want to join the union?" what most workers are thinking, "Oh, do I want to lose my job?" And so I think part of, we have this funny moment where we have to both inspire people to take a risk 'cause there's a vision grand enough to fight for, but also people have to think there's some hope of winning and that's not what we've offered—</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: But there was a lot of hope of winning in Wisconsin and workers and their families did exactly what you are recommending. They got out in the streets. They had strikes. They had protests. They prolonged their demonstrations. And still you lost.</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: Well, you know, what I would raise as a question is whether the primary field where we're going to change the country is through elections. And that that may not be the place. That may be, that's where, you know, one of the things a good organizer does is try to figure out is where can we maximize our power and how do we play in the field where we're most successful. And it's important we win the presidency and important we do politics, but thinking we're going to vote our way out of this mess when we have a declining base I think is a mistake.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: President Obama stayed on the sidelines in Wisconsin as he has in so many of these labor fights of the last three years. Do you feel betrayed by Obama?</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: Not at all. First of all, I think that it was correct for Obama not to go into Wisconsin because he would have become the issue. But the deeper question is I don't feel betrayed by Obama. I feel disappointed in Obama. But I think that if anyone has looked at who he was in 2008 they would have understood, this is a corporate liberal.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: What do you mean by that?</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: He is someone who sees his relationship with Wall Street, with the major corporations, that's the critical alliance for Obama. He was, he saw himself as preserving capitalism and he saw himself not as a champion of working people. He saw himself, he gave wonderful speeches to working people, but he does not see himself as the person who was saying, "We're going to take on the economic royalists."</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: I think in 2008 the labor movement failed because we thought one human being was going to fix everything and we went into neutral. And, I think the real moment of lost opportunity was when the economic crisis hit. That unions and other progressives were waiting for somebody to fix it versus being in the street and really challenging the power of Wall Street. There was a moment where the entire country was questioning.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: Trade unions keep giving money to the Democrats because they, you think they'll come to your rescue and they don't. I mean why do, why does labor keep depending on a party that is always hanging it out to dry?</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: I think the things that unions, and it's not just unions, but progressives need to think about, is who really has the country in a mess? And I think we've been very nervous about really, with red-hot anger, naming who the bad guys are and then talking about it in terms that resonate with people. Not abstractions about trillions of dollars. But talking about this teeny group of people at the top that are pillaging the country. And I think when we start to focus that and then have ways that people can act that's not just about rhetoric. I'll give you a specific example.</p> <p> In California there is a program to pass a series of laws that defend homeowners and protect them from their homes being foreclosed on illegally, protect, if a bank forecloses on a home they now get fined $1,000 a day every day if they don't maintain the home. There's a whole set of legislation that's been passed.</p> <p> Many of the people who should support it haven't supported it. Right? And so the way we've gone about getting them to support it is not to say we would or wouldn't support them, but we actually took people that were facing foreclosure and took them to the lawn of some of those politicians and did ads saying, "Here's Mary Smith. She faces foreclosure. This is her state representative and he won't support the law that would save her home.” It's those kinds of things that are pressuring politicians to do something that really matter. That are about workers saying, "We want to start getting our money back from Wall Street."</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: I think that the two party system is so undemocratic that it makes it very difficult for a third party to emerge. But labor needs to be thinking in those terms. We need to be creating worker candidates who are running. People that are representing the interests of economic justice, not simply funding someone who's going to kick our rear end the least.</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: We feel like we've been screaming to the public for years, "You destroyed unions, you're going to destroy democracy," and folks didn't hear it. So I've sort of moved beyond, you know, the panic that labor movement's in trouble and start, you know, saying, "What is it that we actually do that doesn't make us dependent on, you know, liberals who don't really support unions who might be good on social issues?" And what are the kinds of things that let us start to build a movement that workers want to be part of and that can really challenge the power of capital.</p> <p> I think the problem has been, is that people know they're weak and they're terrified of getting wiped off the face of the Earth. And so—</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: Why are they weak?</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: They're weak because we've been under a corporate assault for years going back to the '50s. I think the question that I wonder about is there are moments where we've won. You know, in my own life, in the Justice for Janitors campaign, hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers stood up to the real estate industry. There's right now, a strike in Louisiana of guest workers that work at a crawfish factory that's a supplier to Wal-Mart.</p> <p> And I think we need to look at these moments where people are taking action and say, "How do we magnify those and what are, what are the seeds of a movement that we can learn from in there?" Because I think if we can spend all our time that we keep talking about why we're weak or why somebody did something that wasn't strong enough, we need to figure out what are the things that we can do.</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: But I would say we're weak because in the late 1940s in the face of the Cold War organized labor ceased being a social movement. It gave up being the champion of economic justice and took on more of the form of a trade association. And so in that it lost the moral standing that it held with millions and millions of people. There was a point when people would say, even if they weren't in the union, "I'm not going to cross that picket line. I'm with the union."</p> <p> Their issues are correct. Over the years as unions stepped further and further away from being the real champions of economic justice and I'm not just talking about a good speech. I mean real champions of economic justice, real allies of community groups that are fighting for them. When we stepped away from that of course we were going to become weaker. We were going to become more isolated. And we'd be looked at as special interests.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: Why the resentment among so many working and middle class people who've been exploited themselves? Why are voters not standing up?</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: Because it's it is easier for regular working people to start blaming someone that they can physically identify, someone that is not very strong, someone that cannot penalize them, rather than actually taking on the real powers. They're focusing on other weak, and I'm using the term broadly, weak sections of the population rather than focusing their attention on who really, who holds the power.</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: But the thing on this that I think is really important is none of what's happening now is a surprise. For 30 years many people have said again and again and that if the private sector isn't organized and private sector workers lose pension plans and private sector workers lose their healthcare that they'll then be convinced they shouldn't fund it for other workers. In going forward there is no way out of this mess unless we organize millions of private sector workers. You will not have a public sector labor movement that survives if private sector workers are, have been impoverished in the country.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: And private sector are now how much, what percentage of the workforce?</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: Only 6.9 percent of private sector workers are now in unions. It is now lower than it was at the start of the Great Depression. What the right wing has managed to do is get workers who have been crushed angry at somebody else. You know, their neighbor who has it a little bit better, than against Jamie Dimon. And we shouldn't be afraid to name names. Or the guys who are the cause of--</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: Which raises the question why conservatives have been more successful than progressives in appealing to populist anger and populist aspirations?</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: We don't connect with people 'cause we're not saying who the bad guys are. And the second part is if we're in bed with and afraid to take on the people who have caused the crisis in this country, then why would people rally behind us?</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: But there's another issue, Bill, which is that the right wing has a story. And they have a story, particularly right wing populists have a story that is very compelling, particularly to white people. A story that's intertwined with the myth of the American dream. And they use that story as a way of focusing on scapegoats. Of moving people away from real issues of power. Of playing upon people's resentments. And what we on the left side of the aisle often do is throw facts at people. You know, we'll say to people there's this vast polarization of wealth. Well, that's true. But people can draw different conclusions about that, including that maybe if they play the right number they too can be on the upside of that.</p> <p> We have to have a story that puts these pieces together. That explains to people how does Wall Street operate. What does this mean when we're talking about changing taxes? What is this issue of power? Who is to blame?</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: But why haven't you done that? I mean—</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: Totally. Well, here's the—</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: We've been through the biggest economic collapse since the 1930s. And yet four years later the capitalist class that brought it on is riding high in politics. It's far more influential than labor is.</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: But this is why I think we need to look at some of the good things that are happening. When we did the demonstrations at the shareholder meetings of Bank of America and Wells Fargo, we did a version of what Bill just described, which is we talked about housing, we talked about how they treated workers, we talked about their role in funding private prisons and we talked about their role in destroying the environment and we talked about money in politics. And all the groups who normally don't work together came together. And in the case of Wells Fargo, lots of people are arrested, both inside and outside the meeting we sat in. And we took all those issues and said, "You know what? It all stems, the story, from the same problem which is the power of giant banks." And so when we were in Charlotte, North Carolina, the city invoked an emergency order and said, it suspended civil liberties in downtown Charlotte for this march. But we built enough pressure that we backed them off and we sat down and took over downtown Charlotte for two hours.</p> <p> But the thing I'm trying to pull out of this is issues that are normally separate and siloed, became the same issue. It's how to giant banks hurt the environment. How do they hurt workers. How do they hurt communities. How do they hurt immigrants. And in looking at that you can imagine the kind of movement we need to build. That's not separate movements. One movement to focus on who these guys are.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: I can understand and appreciate the victories that you win here and there. But there's another side of the ledger too. And I looked at the details of those votes in San Diego and San Jose where voters who went for Barack Obama in 2008 voted by large margins to cut the pensions of public employees. The folks you care about.</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: I'm not surprised when people vote to cut pensions because what they look at is that they say, it's like crabs in the barrel. "These folks have something I do not have." And almost no one is saying to them, "Yes, that's true, but you lost it because of what happened and we need to fight to get it back."</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: So let me give a specific example of what public employee unions could do that would make a different. What I'd love to see, which I think could actually demonstrate leadership, and the Chicago Teachers' Union actually did this. They said that they would take a wage freeze if the mayor would move his money out of all the banks that are continuing to foreclose on people in Chicago.</p> <p> I think one of the things that we could do that would really make a difference. Is we need to turn collective bargaining into a vehicle not just for the narrow group of people who are bargaining, into a battle for the common good. So if public employee unions said, "We're willing to strike to force the city or the state to renegotiate debt with Wall Street," then I think people would rally behind them and say, "Oh, that's where the money went. It went to Wall Street. It's not goin' to those workers."</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: Twenty California counties allow some public workers to make more in retirement than they did while working. And then there's one county executive retired at 62 so she could bring down a pension of $272,000 a year for life. In a county whose public pension system is underfinanced by 3/4 of a billion dollars. Now, against that minute particular, a telling story repeated over and again in an election, you're trying to say there's another story that will mitigate that example?</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: Well, I tell you a funny piece of it is one of our weaknesses is that we're not, that we're afraid to sometimes just to say, "Yeah, that's wrong." And here are things—</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: Yeah, exactly.</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: --and we have this knee jerk defense. Of course it's absurd.</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: People will respond to the story the you just told, because, again, it relates to something I was saying before, that it's easier to blame that public sector worker who is gaming the system than to go after the people in Wall Street who have walked away with billions. It's much easier.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: But Bill, with all due respect, the voters in San Diego, and San Jose see the particularities of this particular county—</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: But--</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: --executive more clearly than they do Jamie Dimon's situation.</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: We have to provide some answers, better answers than we're giving. I don't mean just in simply explanations, but what people can do about the morass that they find themselves in. In addition to saying, "Yeah, this is a problem," we've got to say, "This is how we would--"</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: So let me give a very specific example. There's 16 million homes, which is really 30 million people are underwater. Their homes are worth less than they paid for them. They're overlaid with all the key battleground states. So we've launched a thing called The Home Defender's League—</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: We being?</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: We being a bunch of different community groups and unions. We've, in the last couple weeks, called half a million people. We're having meetings around the country. We have a very simple demand. Every mortgage should be reset to current market value.</p> <p> That would put $700 billion in the economy, create a million jobs, save the average homeowner $5,000 a year and it would extract the money from Wall Street who stole it from them in the first place. Very concrete. An answer. Good math. Economist supported. And we have a chance to win that.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: What’s the website?</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong> You go to homedefendersleague.org.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: Many of the people who are in their homes are not losing them. They're property owners. They're paying taxes. And they're fed up with what they perceive to be the heavy burden imposed on them by public employees.</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: And the person that you're describing that's paying those taxes and is feeling squeezed, we need to begin with the fact, you are being squeezed. There is a squeeze. It's not your imagination. So the question is then where is the money? Is the money to be found in crushing public sector workers or is the money to be found in reversing a practice over the last 50 years of decreasing taxes on corporations and on the wealthy?</p> <p> Because the problem is that what's happened as the tax burden on the wealthy has shrunk, of course the people in the middle are bearing more and more of that. And they're resentful. And they should be.</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong> The majority of those people, as mad as they may be at a public employee, know when in every poll, every discussion, the systems imbalanced, the people at the top are sucking up all the wealth. Financial capitalism is failing as a model in this country and in Europe. And I think as they start, if we survive this period and if we go on offense and let me just be clear. Offense is not defense yelling louder. Offense—</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: So what is offense? What's your strategy? What do you want people to do who believe in what you've just said?</p> <p> <strong>STEPHEN LERNER</strong>: So I would say, one, we should take the fight on underwater homeowners and foreclose that's already stopping, where people are occupying homes around the country. A wonderful way to connect with regular people in the fight against banks that's happening all over the country. There's a woman in Arizona, Lily Washington. Bank of America foreclosed on her while she was visiting her son who had been shot in Afghanistan and threw away her purple heart. A wonderful moment when they foreclosed when veterans, not radicals, regular veterans delivered a purple heart to her house saying, "We are with you in your battle against Bank of America." We need to look at the places where we can have battles we can win that put people in motion, that name Wall Street, that start winning victories. I'm worried less about Washington and much more worried about what happens to communities all over this country and how we start to fight back and win in those. And that's the kind of thing that builds the excitement and the energy to take on the bigger fight about how the system's been co-opted.</p> <p> <strong>BILL MOYERS</strong>: Stephen Lerner, Bill Fletcher, thank you for joining us.</p> <p> <strong>BILL FLETCHER, JR</strong>.: Thank you very much.</p> </div> <p>  </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the Director of Field Services &amp; Education for the American Federation of Government Employees. He is also a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the co-author of Solidarity Divided. Stephen Lerner is a labor and community organizer and the architect of the Justice for Janitors campaign. </div></div></div> Sun, 15 Jul 2012 20:00:01 -0700 Stephen Lerner, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Bill Moyers, Moyers &amp; Company 671682 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics Labor labor unions banks wall street The Cancer of Voter Suppression: The GOP's Silent Coup http://www.alternet.org/story/154395/the_cancer_of_voter_suppression%3A_the_gop%27s_silent_coup <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Republican-led efforts in more than a dozen states are rolling back the 20th Century&#039;s civil rights gains.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1330736579_245274.jpg?itok=pYpCa5_H" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The history of the United States of America has been one of an on-going fight to expand the right to vote.  </p> <p>Originally restricted to white men with property, the franchise expanded over time, eventually including African Americans in the aftermath of the Civil War.  Then, in what the eminent scholar W.E.B. Dubois described as a “counter-revolution,” the achievements of the Reconstruction period were ended and the franchise was restricted in the South, virtually eliminating African American and many poor white voters from any political existence.  Nevertheless, the fight continued to expand the franchise, both challenging the machinations that limited voting but also eventually extending the right to vote to women.  By the 1960s dramatic breakthroughs were accomplished and with the Voting Rights Act, and both the lowering of the voting age and various state actions, increasing numbers of citizens were empowered to vote.</p> <p>But a cancer has begun to spread in the electoral realm, one that is appropriately receiving greater and greater attention.  </p> <p>It is the cancer of voter dis-enfranchisement and it is happening under the banner of stopping alleged voter fraud.  While this may sound perfectly reasonable, there is only one problem:  voter fraud has not been documented as a significant problem any time in the recent past.  Nevertheless, a primarily Republican legislative offensive has taken place in fourteen states that could make it more difficult for at least five million voters to cast their ballots in November 2012.</p> <p>The facts of this offensive are on display in a must-read report issued by the Brennan Center for Justice, entitled, <em><a href="http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/voting_law_changes_in_2012">Voting Law Changes in 2012</a></em>.  Authored by Wendy R. Weiser and Lawrence Norden, the report documents aggressive efforts by primarily Republican state legislators to limit voting.  The attacks have been intense.</p> <p>They have ranged from making voter registration campaigns more difficult to organize; the need for SPECIAL government-issued identification in order to vote; additional background in order to register to vote; the elimination of same-day registration (i.e., registering to vote on election day and then voting); the cutting back on early voting and in some places eliminating Sunday voting; and making it more difficult to restore voting rights for the formerly incarcerated.  The actual form of the attack differs from state to state but what they share in common is a specific objective: to narrow the electorate in order to guarantee that ultra-conservatives are elected to office.</p> <p>Let’s take one example:  proof of citizenship.  This may sound quite reasonable.  In the past when registering all an individual needed to do was to provide proof of where they lived.  The penalties for voter fraud are quite severe so someone has to think at least twice before they commit it.  With the demonization of so many immigrants, particularly those from south of the border and from Asia, requirements have changed.  But the ramifications or consequences of these changes go beyond immigrants.  The demand for documents of citizenship potentially affects at least 7% of the electorate, according to the Brennan Center.  Why, you ask?  Because many people do not have their birth certificates; they may have been born at home and not had them properly registered.  They also may simply not have access to them without paying what for some people may be a substantial fee.</p> <p>The example that sends chills up my spine, however, concerns Sunday voting.  Work-week voting has always struck me as an ‘excellent’ means of discouraging voting.  Many people cannot take the time off to vote and/or are not permitted to do so.  Therefore, early voting is both reasonable and truly democratic.  Yet, many conservative legislators seeing the appeal of Sunday voting to African American churchgoers, moved to block this.  Their explanations or rationales simply do not add up.  The equation for the Republicans is that African American churchgoers are more than likely Democratic Party voters, therefore they need to be blocked.</p> <p>For these reasons there appear to be the makings of massive electoral theft, something that goes beyond the crudeness of both Florida in 2000 and the voting machine issues in Ohio in 2004.  This is about the “legal” elimination of millions of voters, particularly those who the Republicans expect to vote Democratic.  When these individuals are restricted from voting, or too discouraged to vote, the charlatans who passed the regressive legislation that made this all possible will simply throw their hands into the air and feign a lack of responsibility.</p> <p>As with any cancer, this must be rooted out before it gets to Stage 4.  In our case “Stage 4” is a stolen election and a quiet coup by forces that represent the interests of a wealthy elite that is out of touch with the reality that the average person in the USA experiences.</p> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the Director of Field Services &amp; Education for the American Federation of Government Employees. He is also a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the co-author of Solidarity Divided. </div></div></div> Fri, 02 Mar 2012 13:00:01 -0800 Bill Fletcher, Jr., AFL-CIO 669829 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics Election 2016 Human Rights Visions voter suppression brennan center voter id 2012 election gop and voter fraud Revolutionary Jose Maria Sison on US Imperialism and a Way Forward for the Philippines http://www.alternet.org/story/153695/revolutionary_jose_maria_sison_on_us_imperialism_and_a_way_forward_for_the_philippines <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '669203'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=669203" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The US government claims he&#039;s a supporter of terrorism. Millions of others consider Sison a Marxist theorist and revolutionary.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1326118743_josemariasison.jpg?itok=90JgvJk7" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>In 2002, seemingly out of nowhere, then US Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that the USA henceforth considered the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and their armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to be terrorist organizations. Additionally, they labeled a long-time Philippine revolutionary leader and theorist—Jose Maria Sison—to be a supporter of terrorism. Sison had been living in exile in the Netherlands. This labeling, denounced immediately by civil liberties advocates in the USA, the Philippines and other parts of the world, has resulted in myriad of legal ramblings and complications for all those associated with the NDFP and CPP. What made this announcement by Powell so odd was that the conflict in the Philippines represented a long-running—and internationally recognized—civil war and the NDFP (and Sison) had been engaged in peace negotiations, a process that was certainly harmed by the Bush administration’s allegations. These allegations also emerged at a time of increasing usage by the US government of the label of “terrorist” or “supporter of terrorism” to describe opponents.</p> <p>The following is drawn from a longer interview with Professor Sison. This component focuses upon his analysis of the current situation in the Philippines, negotiations with the Philippine government and the question of the terrorist label used by the US government against various forces.</p> <p>If you apply your search engine to research Professor Sison you will find a considerable number of references, including his own website which provides biographical background (see:<a target="_blank" href="http://www.josemariasison.org/"><font color="#0000FF" size="3" face="Baskerville Old Face"><u>www.josemariasison.org</u></font></a>). Sison, born in 1939, has been a major leader in Philippine radical politics since the 1960s. He served as the founding chair of the revamped Communist Party of the Philippines in 1968 and helped in the creation of the New People’s Army the following year. He was captured by the government forces of then dictator Ferdinand Marcos at which time he was both imprisoned and tortured. He gained release in 1986 when Marcos was overthrown in the famous “People Power” uprising. He then attempted to assist in negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (the broad umbrella group coordinating the insurrection in which the CPP and NPA can be found) and the government of President Corazon Aquino, but these came to nothing as the government moved more to the Right and repression was imposed on opponents of the government. Sison found himself in exile when he was traveling and his passport was cancelled.</p> <p>Though in exile, Sison was tapped to serve as the chief political consultant to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. As a result he has been very much in touch with the unfolding of the struggle on that archipelago, a struggle that includes the armed insurrection led by the CPP/NPA, as well as a secessionist movement on the southern island of Mindanao among the largely Muslim Moro people (a movement supported by the NDFP).</p> <p>Despite the length of the immediate insurrection, and the long-term struggle that the Philippine people have conducted to achieve genuine freedom from US domination—a struggle dating back to the Spanish-American War—the Philippines rarely receives much attention except when the US government discusses alleged Muslim terrorism on Mindanao. For that reason it is useful for US audiences to understand the point of view of the insurrectionists irrespective of whether one agrees with their objectives and/or means.</p> <p> </p> <p class="p1" style="text-align: left; "> </p> <p>1<b>. You have described the Philippines as semi-colonial/semi-feudal. Please explain what this means in practical terms. We are in the early years of the 21st century. How could there be a semi-feudal situation in the Philippines? The Philippines seems, for all intents and purposes, to be tied into global capitalism.</b></p> <p>You can say bluntly that the Philippines is capitalist and has long been capitalist since the 19th century if you mean that the commodity system of production and exchange through money has come on top of the natural economy of feudalism when local communities could subsist on a diversified agriculture and engage mainly in barter. The specialization in crops for domestic food(rice and corn) and for export (tobacco, hemp and sugar) and the import of a certain amount of manufactures from Europe for consumption pushed the domestic commodity system of production as well as integration with global capitalism through colonialism as a part of the primitive accumulation of capital in Europe and subsequently under the banner of colonial free trade.</p> <p>But it is utterly wrong to say that the Philippines is industrial capitalist or even semi-industrial capitalist. The Philippines does not have an industrial foundation. Its floating kind of industry consists of imported equipment paid for bythe export of raw materials and by foreign loans necessitated by the chronic trade deficits. It is most precise to describe the Philippine economy as semi-feudal to denote the persistence of the large vestiges of feudalism in the form of disguised and undisguised landlord- tenant relations and usury at the base of the economy, the peasant class constituting 75 per cent of the population and the combination of the big compradors and landlords as the main exploiting classes. The big compradors are the chief financial and trading agents of the foreign monopolies and are often big landlords themselves, especially on land producing crops for export.</p> <p>Global capitalism under theneoliberal policy of "free trade" globalizationhas not changed but has aggravated and deepened the pre-industrial and underdeveloped semi-feudal character of the Philippine economy. The share of manufacturing with the use of imported equipment and raw materials under the policy of low-value addedexport-oriented manufacturing in the last three decades has decreased in comparison to that share under the previous policy of import substitution. The illusion of industrial development has been conjured by excessive foreign borrowing for consumption of foreignmanufactures, by conspicuous private construction projects and by the sweat shops that engage in the fringe-processing ofimported manufactured components and yield little net export income.</p> <p>Neither the series of bogus land reform programs since decades ago nor the neoliberal policy of imperialist globalization has broken up feudalism completely and given way to a well-founded industrialization. The backward agrarian and semi-feudal character of the Philippine economy is now increasingly exposed by its depression and ruination due to the decreasing demand for its type of exports, the closure of many sweatshops of semi-manufacturing for export, the tighteningof international credit and the decrease of remittances by overseas contract workers in the current prolonged global economic and financial crisis in this 21st century of desperate, barbaric and imploding global capitalism. The conditions have become more fertile for people's war in the Philippines.</p> <p>In the 1980s,certain elements in the Philippinespushed the notion that the Philippine economy was no longer semi-feudal but semi-capitalist or semi-industrial capitalist in order to glorify the Marcos fascist dictatorship as having industrialized the Philippines. This notion also aimed to undercut the Communist Party's strategic line of protracted people’s war involving the encirclement of the cities from the countryside by the armed revolutionary movementof the workers and peasants until such time that they have accumulated enough politico-military strengthto seize the cities on a nationwide scale in a strategic offensive.</p> <p>The bureaucratic big compradorFerdinand Marcosconjured the illusion of industrial development by borrowing heavily from abroad and by importing consumption goods and luxuries and construction equipment and structural steel in order to build roads, bridges, hotels andother tourist facilities. The profligate spending of foreign loans only served to maintain the agrarian and pre-industrial character of the Philippine economy. Cognizant of the persistent semi-feudal reality, the New People's Army under CPP leadership has been ableto wage people's war successfully with the main support of the peasantry and under the class leadership of the working class.</p> <p><b>2. When one talks of the Philippine working class, what are the main sectors in which it is found and how is neo-liberalism affecting it?</b></p> <p>The Philippine working class is found in such main sectors as the following: food and beverages, hotels and restaurants, public utilities (power generation, water and sewage system), mining and quarrying, metal fabrication (imported metals), car assembly, ship assembly, transportation, communications, mass media, assembly of electronic and electrical products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oil refining, construction, construction materials (cement and wood), banks and other financial institutions and public sector services (education, health, etc.).</p> <p>In the Philippines, theneoliberal policy has favored certain enterprisesaway from industrial development and has expanded employment in such enterprises during boom periods. The favored enterprises include those in mining and export-crop plantations, the assembly of electronic and electrical products, the semi-manufacturing of garments, shoes and other low-value added products for re-export,car assembly, construction of office and residential towers,cement production, hotels and restaurants, business call centers and financial services. They are vulnerable to the ups and downs characteristic of global capitalism under neoliberal policyand now to the worst crisis since the Great Depression. Closures and reduction of production have resulted in a high rate of unemployment and the further immiseration of the people.</p> <p>Under the neoliberal policy, the working class has been subjected to wage freezes and reductions, loss of job security, flexibilization or casualization (reducing the number of regular employees and increasing the number of temporaries or casuals),systematic prevention or break up of workers' unions and ceaseless attack on union rights and other democratic rights. The kinds of enterprises generatedby the neoliberal policy involve cheap labor and the most tiring and health-damaging processes and conditions. They also limit the number of regular employees and expand the ranks of the casuals subjected to a series of short-term employment contracts in order to circumvent the law on regular employment. The scarcity of employment opportunities in the Philippines has compelled nearly 10 per cent of the population to seek employment abroad as overseas contract workers and undocumented workers with practically no rights. This fact proves the lack of national industrial development.</p> <p><b>3. Would you sum-up the situation in the Philippines, particularly the state of negotiations between the NDFP and the government; the situation facing workers and farmers; the overall economy; and fighting that may be taking place?</b></p> <p>The Philippines is severely stricken by crisis because of the rotting semi-colonial and semi-feudal ruling system and the growing impact of the crisis of the US and global capitalist system. The prices of the raw materials and semi-manufactures produced for export by the Philippines are depressed and foreign loans to cover the trade deficits and debt service are becoming more onerous than before. There is now less demand for overseas contract workers and thus their remittances are decreasing. The global economic and financial crisis is hitting hard the Philippines. The growing public deficits (budgetary and trade) and the public debt are growing and exposing the bankruptcy of the big comprador-landlord state.</p> <p>Various forms of popular resistance, includingpeople's war, are ever growing because of the extreme and ever worsening conditions of exploitation and oppression of more than 90 per cent of the people, the toiling masses of workers and peasants. Like preceding regimes, the Aquino regime wants to destroy the armed revolutionary movement. It is implementing the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan, which is the same dog as Arroyo's Oplan Bantay Laya but which tries to be different by dressing up brutal military operations as peace and development operations and maintaining human rights desks in the reactionary army and national police for the purpose of shifting the blame for human rights violations to the revolutionaries. On the other hand, the New People's Army led by the Communist Party of the Party is carrying out a five-year plan to advance from the strategic defensive to strategic stalemate in the people's war,increasing the number of guerrilla fronts from 120 to 180.</p> <p>While their respectivearmed forces continue to fight, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are supposed to engage in peace negotiations in order to address the roots of the armed conflict by forging agreements on social, economic and political reforms. But the GPH has paralyzed the peace negotiationsby refusing to release a few political prisoners who are NDFP consultants in the negotiations and thus violatingthe Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). The GPH is also grossly violating the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIL) by refusing to release more than 350 political prisoners who are imprisoned on false charges of common crimes.</p> <p><b>4. What have been the chief obstacles to a negotiated settlement between the NDFP and the government?</b></p> <p>The Manila government and NDFP have their respective constitutions, governments and armies. To lay the ground for peace negotiations, they issued The Hague Joint Declaration to define the framework for peace negotiations. They agreed to address the roots of the armed conflict or the civil war by negotiating and forging agreements on human rights and international humanitarian lawand on social, economic and political reforms. They also agreed that they areguided by the mutually acceptable principles of national sovereignty, democracy and social justice and that no precondition shall be made by any side to negate the inherent character and purpose of peace negotiations, i.e. no side can demand the surrender of the other side.</p> <p>Under the currentAquino regime,his presidential adviser and his negotiating panel want to undermine and nullify the aforesaid declaration by asserting that it is a document of perpetual division. They are practically demanding the immediate surrender of the revolutionary movement. They do not respect the agreement on the sequence, formation and operationalization of the reciprocal working committees that are to negotiate and work out the agreements on reforms. The question of what kind of authority will be formed to implement the comprehensive agreements on reforms shall be settled when the time comes for negotiating the political and constitutional reforms.</p> <p>The Benigno Aquino III regime hasshown no respect for and has in fact violated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) by refusing to release some 14 political prisoners who are NDFP negotiating personnel and are therefore JASIG-protected. It has not called to account those military and police personnel who have abducted, tortured and murdered NDFP consultants who are JASIG-protected. Also, it has violated the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law by condoning violations of human rights of suspected revolutionaries and sympathizers by the Arroyo regime and by his own troops and by refusing to release 350 political prisoners who are unjustly imprisoned on trumped up charges of common crimes.</p> <p>The regime keeps on demanding ceasefire in order to distract public attention from the agreement to address the roots of the civil war though basic reforms. The NDFP has offered truce and alliance on the basis of a general declaration on common intent on ten points, including the assertion of national independence, empowerment of the working people, land reform and national industrialization, immediate assistance and employmentfor theimpoverished and unemployed, promotion of a patriotic, scientific and popular culture, self-determination of national minorities and independent foreign policy for peace and development.</p> <p>The biggest obstacle to the peace negotiations is US political and military intervention. The US has upset the peace negotiations by unjustly designating the CPP, the NPA and the NDFP chief political consultant as terrorists. It has dictated upon the Aquino regime to draw up Oplan Bayanihan under the US Counterinsurgency Guide, which considers peace negotiations as a mere psy-war<sup>2</sup>device for outwitting, isolating and destroying the revolutionary movement. Oplan Bayanihan is a campaign plan of military suppression. But it masquerades as a peace and development plan. It regards peace negotiations only as a means to enhance the triad of psy-war, intelligence-gathering and combat operations. Many people think that the US does not allow the puppet regime to make the overall agreement for a just and lasting peace with the NDFP.</p> <p><b>5. Are you optimistic that negotiations can result in a just settlement?</b></p> <p>Frankly speaking, I am not optimistic that negotiations can result in a just settlement. Like its predecessors, the Aquino regime is too servile to US imperialism and stands as the current chief representative of the local exploiting classes, the comprador big bourgeoisie and landlord class. It has shown no inclination to assert national independence and undo unequal treaties, agreements and arrangements that keep the Philippines semi-colonial. It also has shown no inclination to realize democracy through significant representation of workers and peasants in government and through land reform and national industrialization.</p> <p>It has become clear that the reactionary government is not seriously interested in peace negotiations as a way of addressing the roots of the armed conflict through agreements on basic reforms. Especially under the Aquino regime, the negotiators are always trying to lay aside the substantive agenda and to push the NDFP towards capitulation and pacification. Failing to accomplish their vile objective, they paralyze the peace negotiations by refusing to comply with obligations under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.</p> <p><b>6. What has been the role of the USA? And,have US policies towards the Philippines changed under President Obama? If so, how? What is your overall assessment of the Obama administration?</b></p> <p>The USA has not been helpful to the peace negotiations. In fact, it has obstructed these. The US designation of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and myself (the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ chief political consultant) as terrorists is meant to intimidate and put pressure on the NDFP in the peace negotiations. The US Counterinsurgency Guide actually tells the Philippine reactionary government that peace negotiations are dispensable but are useful only for purposes of psy-war to mislead the people, possibly split the revolutionary forces and make the reactionary killing machine more efficient. But the US policy against peace negotiations with the NDFP has served to make the revolutionary force and people more vigilant and more resolute in opposing US intervention in the internal affairs of the Philippines.</p> <p>From the Bush II to the Obama regime, there has been no change in US policy towards the Philippines. Obama continues the policy of serving the interests of the US imperialists in the economic, political, military and cultural fields, collaborating with the big compradors and landlords, manipulating the puppet regime and its military forces, preventing land reform and national industrialization, controlling the fundamentals and direction of the Philippine cultural and educational system and stationing US troops in the Philippines and maintaining a permanent relay of US military forces under the US-RP<sup>3</sup>Mutual Defense Pact and the Visiting Forces Agreement. Obama is a good servant of US imperialism. He used his glibness to make himself look better than the brazenly brutal Bush. But he is using the same glibness to cover many acts as bad as or even worse than those that made Bush infamous.</p> <p><b>7. How did the CPP and NPA end up on a list of terrorist organizations? How did you end up on a list of supporters of terrorism? What steps are being taken to remove this label from you, the CPP and the NPA?</b></p> <p>During the November 2001 visit of then Philippine president Gloria M. Arroyo to Washington, she requested then US President Bush to have the US agencies(State Department and the Office of Foreign Asset Control of the Treasury Department)designate the CPP,NPAand myself as "terrorists". When US state secretary Colin Powell visited the Philippines in the early days of August 2002, he was reminded of the request and he assured Arroyo that he would act on itimmediately upon his return to the US. Indeed,within August 2002 the CPP, NPA and I were designated as "terrorists."</p> <p>The Philippine and U.S. governments connived to take advantage of the terrorism scare that followed 9-11. They themselves engaged in terrorism by deciding to undertake harmful actions against the CPP, NPA and myself. The designationof the CPP and NPAas "terrorist"is absolutely absurd because they [the NPA—interviewer] have carried outrevolutionary actions strictly within the Philippines, have not engaged in any cross-border attacks against the US and up to now have not been discovered to keep bank accounts in the US or anywhere else outside of the Philippines.</p> <p>In my case, I have been falsely accused of being the current CPP chairman and being responsible for the alleged terrorist acts, in fact the revolutionary actions, of the NPA despite the fact that I have been out of the Philippines since 1986 when I was released from nearly a decade of detention under the Marcos fascist dictatorship. The malicious intention of the US and Philippine governments is to pressure the entireNDFP negotiating panel and me as its chief political consultant. Like the Arroyo regime,the Aquino regime uses the terrorist designation as a kind of lever against the NDFP in the peace negotiations.</p> <p>It is impossible for theCPP, NPA or myselfto begin any legal process for undoingthe terrorist designation in the US or in any other country tailing after the US in the so-called war on terror, without proving first the legal personality and material interest of the plaintiff. In my case, I could take legal action against the Dutch government for putting me in the terrorist list because I live in The Netherlands. After my administrative complaint, the Dutch government repealed its decision to put me in its terrorist list but took the initiative in having me put in the terrorist list of the European Union in October 2002. I went to the European Court of Justice and I succeeded in having my name removed from the EU terrorist list in December 2010 after eight years of legal struggle.</p> <p><b>8. Do you think that the US media has consciously mischaracterized the situation in the Philippines by focusing on groups like Abu Sayyaf</b><sup><b>4</b></sup><b>?</b></p> <p>Yes, the US media drum up US policy and corporate interests and consciously misrepresent the Philippine situation, as in the focusing on the Abu Sayyaf. This small bandit gang, whose origin can be traced to the CIA and intelligence operatives of the Philippine army who organized andused it against the Moro revolutionaries (MNLF and then MILF),is magnifiedas an extension of Al Qaeda in order to serve the false claim of [President] Bushthat the Philippines is the second front of a global war on terror as well as to rationalize state terrorism and US military intervention in the Philippines.</p> <p>Through the mass media, the US has spread the scare about terrorism in order to justify a whole range of actions: the curtailment of democratic rights in the US and on a global scale, the stepping up of war production to please the military-industrial complex and the unleashing of wars of aggression</p> <p><b>9. Has the "terrorism" designation made it difficult for NDFP supporters in the Philippines and in other parts of the world? If so, how? Have civilian political activists faced increased government-inspired violence as a result of this terrorism designation?</b></p> <p>The "terrorism" designation is an incitation to hatred and violence and various forms of discrimination and harassment against known or suspected NDFP supporters in the Philippines and other parts of the world. Although the NDFP is not designated as terrorist, everyone knows that the CPP and NPA are the most important components of the NDFP. In the Philippines, the incitation to hatred and violence is quite deadly because the military, police and their death squads are emboldened to go on terrorist-hunting and are assured that they can abduct, torture and kill people with impunity…</p> <p>The Dutch authorities have advised the Norwegian government not to give any assistance to the NDFP negotiating panel for maintaining office and staff in The Netherlands on the claim that such assistance would be for building the infrastructure of "terrorists". They have also raided the NDFP office and houses of NDFP panelists and consultants and seized documents and equipmentneeded in the peace negotiations.</p> <p><b>10. Periodically the US media discuss alleged Muslim fundamentalist terrorism in the Philippines. What is the situation? In Mindanao there have been efforts at autonomy and self-determination. What has been the stand of the NDFP on these efforts? What is your take on allegations of Muslim terrorism?</b></p> <p>The NDFP supports the Moro people's struggle for self-determination, including the right to secede from an oppressive state or opt for regional autonomy in a non-oppressive political system. The Moro people have long been oppressed by the Manila governmentand by local reactionary agents. Theyare not free in their own homeland and are victims of Christian chauvinism and discrimination. They have beendeprived of their ancestral domain. They have been robbed of agricultural land as well as forest, mineral and marine resources.</p> <p>The Moro people have all the right to fight for national and social liberation. The NDFP has therefore found common ground for alliance with the Moro National Liberation Front(MNLF) and subsequently with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after the MNLF capitulated to the Ramos regime in 1996. By fighting well against their common enemy, the NDFP and the MILF gain better conditions for growing in strength and advancing in their respective struggles.</p> <p>The US government and the US media exaggerate the threat of Muslim fundamentalist terrorism because they wish to promote the entry of US corporations for the purpose of plundering the rich natural resources of Mindanao, especially oil, gold and deuterium. They also wish to justify the current stationing of US military forces and eventually the basing of larger US military forces for the purpose of strategic control over Islamic countries in Southeast Asia and strategic countervailing of China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] in Northeast Asia.</p> <p>Like Al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf was originally a creature of CIA and the intelligence agency of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to counteract the MNLF. It has become a bandit gang since the capitulation of MNLF. It has also been convenient for the US and Manila government to depict the Abu Sayyaf as a Muslim fundamentalist group and as an extension of the Al Qaeda, since 2001 when Bush declared Moro land as the second front in the so-called global war on terror. There are indications that the US and Philippine governments continue to arm and finance the Abu Sayyaf in order to block the advance of the MILF in Sulu and to provide the pretext for US military intervention in the Philippines.</p> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a long-time racial justice, labor and international writer and activist. He is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com, and a Visiting Scholar with the City University of New York Graduate Center. For a lengthy biography of Jose Maria Sison, one source can be found in a biographical sketch at: <a href="http://www.josemariasison.org/?p=2560.">http://www.josemariasison.org/?p=2560.</a> </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '669203'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=669203" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 22 Jan 2012 03:00:01 -0800 Bill Fletcher, Jr., AlterNet 669203 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics Economy Human Rights Books Activism marxism communism philippines jose maria sison communist part of philipp senator benigno aquino jr