English Transcript of Kim Jong Un’s Speech

North Korea Tech

Here’s an English translation of the speech delivered by Kim Jong Un on April 15th, 2012, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang:

Kim Jong Un, recently elected leader of the DPRK

Heroic officers of the army, the navy, the air force and the strategic rocket unit of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), and officers of the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces; members of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards and the Young Red Guards; working people of the entire country and citizens of Pyongyang; the people in the South and overseas compatriots; comrades and friends,

Today, we proceed with a grand military parade to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung, while embracing the greatest national pride and self-esteem. Continue reading

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Poll: Arizonans Oppose Right-Wing Agenda

special to peoplesworld.org

PHOENIX – A new statewide poll released today shows Arizonans, including self-identified Republicans, overwhelmingly oppose the extreme legislative agenda being pushed by lawmakers at the Statehouse, particularly measures attacking teachers, nurses and other public service workers who keep our communities safe and strong.

The poll showed Arizonans overwhelmingly want legislators to focus on creating jobs and improving education.  The poll – which had a majority of respondents self-identifying as Republicans – also found that only 29 percent of Arizonans approve of the job legislators are doing for them, a finding that shows voters see their lawmakers as extreme and out of touch.

“This poll confirms what we already knew: Arizonans are tired of partisan political games that only benefit special interests like the Goldwater Institute and Arizona’s 1 percent,” said John Loredo, who is working with the Arizona Working Families Coalition and is the former Arizona House Minority Leader.  “Legislators can either focus on job creation and improving education or face the wrath of voters in November by continuing to push these unpopular, overreaching policies that hurt working families and our communities.”

The release of the poll comes a day after Arizonans delivered over 20,000 petitions, postcards and letters to Senators opposing a bill that destroys personnel protections and institutes political cronyism, and other measures that do nothing to create jobs and only put families and communities at risk.  Though the poll shows job creation is the number one priority for Arizonans, reports from earlier this month show that the Senate Economic Development and Jobs Creation Committee had only met once since January and heard only three bills.

“Since the beginning of the year, extreme lawmakers have ignored the issues Arizonans elected them to work on and, instead, pushed an all-out assault on Arizona working families,” said Mike Covert, an elementary school special education teacher with the Cave Creek Unified School District for the past seven years, and a registered independent voter. “With tens of thousands of Arizonans looking for work, it is disheartening to see some legislators focused on bills that create no jobs but open the door to cronyism in government and hurt teachers, nurses and others who provide vital services to our communities.”

Lake Research Partners conducted the statewide telephone survey among a representative cross section of 400 registered Arizona voters on March 26-28, 2012. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

Here are some of the findings from the poll:

  • 76 percent of respondents said they support the current personnel law that says there must be a reason to fire public employees like teachers, police and firefighters.
  • 87 percent felt that police and firefighters should have a say in their own training and job procedures, which is part of the current personnel laws, while only 8 percent said politicians said have the final say on these procedures, a change that would come if the current personnel bill is passed.
  • An overwhelming majority of Arizonans – 73 percent – also oppose a law, currently before the legislature, to prohibit public employees from setting up their paychecks to automatically contribute money to a third party.
  • On legislative priorities Arizonans would like to see lawmakers work on, 40 percent ranked job creation their number one concern followed by improving education at 36 percent. Only 9 percent said legislators’ priority should be to change the current hiring and firing process for public employees.
  • Only 29 percent of respondents gave state legislators a positive approval rating. 35 percent rating their work as “just fair” and 34 percent said lawmakers were doing a “poor” job. This mirrors an earlier poll conducted in January by Behavior Research of Arizona that found only 26 percent of Arizonans with a positive approval of legislators but shows an increase in disapproval.
  • Gov. Brewer fared better but a majority of Arizonans polled – 52 percent – gave her a “just fair” or “poor” rating.
  • 50 percent of those polled self-identified as Republicans.

To see the full polling results, click on this link or go here.

*note: People’s Voice is the news website of the Communist Party USA. The original article can be found here

Seven Questions for the Dalai Lama

Editor’s Note: It is a universal rule that all religions and their sects should forbid murdering and telling lies, and protect the interests of the country and its people. Tibetan Buddhism is no exception.

It is also a rule of Buddhism and a common understanding that life should be cherished and truth should be respected. However, reviewing some remarks and actions of the 14th Dalai Lama in recent years, the writer cannot help raising some questions to him. (original)

Q1:Why does the Dalai Lama deliberately incite Tibetans for self-immolation?

The Dalai Lama called on Tibetans not to celebrate Losar so as to memorize “the fallen heroes of Tibet” in Dharamsala, India on Feb.22, 2012.

The writer can’t help thinking that the Dalai Lama is deliberately encouraging Tibetans to self-immolate since he appealed to all Tibetans not to celebrate Losar in memorial of self-immolators.

It’s been thousands of years for Tibetans to celebrate Tibetan New Year, which is an important carrier of Tibetan culture, customs and emotions. Tibetans are able to obtain the great soul from Losar after a year of hard work.

However, “self-immolation” is an extreme way to end one’s life. In the modern age, any group or force encouraging self-immolation for their illegal purposes in any place is bound to be condemned.

UN declaration on measures to eliminate international terrorism declared that criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular communities for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.

From “3.14 Riots” in 2008 to recent self-immolations, all those incidents were premeditated long before and happened at a price of ordinary Tibetans’ peaceful life and even lives?

There is a saying in Buddism: “Saving one life is better than build a seven-storey pagoda”. Looking back, how many young lives have been terminated due to the Dalai Lama’s bewitching. Even if the Dalai Lama build hundreds of thousands of temples, it could not offset his sin in inciting repeated self-immolations of young monks.

Q2: Who extinguishes Tibetan culture?

In November 2011, the 14th Dalai Lama acclaimed in Japan that the reason for Tibetan monks’ self-immolations was “China’s policy on extinguishing Tibetan culture”.

As to “Tibetan culture”, the Dalai Lama follows such a logic: Tibetan culture is the culture of Tibetan Buddhism, the culture of Tibetan Buddhism is the culture of the Gelug Sect (the yellow sect of Tibetan Buddhism, and the sect of the Dalai Lama) while the Dalai Lama has the final speaking in the Gelug Sect.

In other words, anything that goes against the Dalai Lama is regarded by him as “extirpation of Tibetan culture”. What a ridiculous idea! The Dalai Lama still treats himself as the serf owner, Tibet as his property and Tibetan people as his slaves.

A scholar has pointed out that the so-called “extinguished Tibetan culture” refers to the absolute privilege of the religious figures. In the Dalai Lama’s eyes, the fact that common Tibetans master the culture would violate the stiff hierarchy of theocracy.

In fact, Tibetan culture consists of not only religious culture but also folk culture, not only traditional culture but also modern culture, not only the culture of the Tibetan ethnic group but also the cultures of other ethnic groups, such as Confucius culture, Mongolian culture and Manchu culture.

The religious culture has never been the only content of Tibetan culture, let alone the “Dalai Lama’s culture” or “Gelug culture”. The 14th Dalai Lama racks his brains to cheat the world that he develops the whole Tibetan culture if he develops the Gelug culture. What he does is the worst “extirpation of Tibetan culture”!

In the writer’s opinion, the Dalai Lama’s “extirpation of Tibetan culture” exposes his ugly purpose: he attempts to meet the demand of Tibetan separatists and stir up the Western forces’ “impulse to put pressure on China” in order to realize his aim of restoring Tibet’s serfdom and dividing China.

Q3: Are the central government of China and Tibet in a “Supply and Granting” relationship?

The 14th Dalai Lama claimed in his “Reincarnation Statement” that the “Supply and Granting” relationship between the central governments of Qing Dynasty (1636-1912) and Tibet didn’t change even when the 13th Dalai Lama was conferred in 1879.

His statement implied that inland China and Tibet was historically in the so-called “Supply and Granting” relationship, and denied Tibet as an administratively subordinative region of China.

Reviewing the history of Qing, however, the author cannot help wondering why the Dalai Lama, known for his lineal memory of previous life, suddenly became “amnesiac” and denies the fact that Tibet is an inalienable part of China. The author would like to help Dalai Lama recover his memory kindly by raising some questions.

Since the Dalai Lama considered the central government and Tibet had no “Supply and Granting” relationship when he was appointed, why was he so polite towards the central government’s ministers stationed in Tibet, reporting everything and seeking for support whenever he met problems?

Did he remember that he had directly reported to the emperor but was denied for bypassing the ministers stationed in Tibet?

The author believes that his previous life didn’t forget these facts before he was reincarnated, and he should not suddenly lose memory. He cannot go so far as to deny those facts as a human being.

Here is a piece of advice for the Dalai Lama: if there were no “Supply and Granting” relationship between the central government and Tibet and no drawing lot from the golden urn, the Dalai Lama and his previous life would not have existed either, let alone the “shows” he performed today.

At present,”traveling through time” is prevalent in the films and TV series. And I think the Dalai Lama should also “travel back” and review his previous life, and then he will tell the truth.

Q4: Why did you build up a “Berlin Wall” of national antagonism?

“Since the Berlin Wall collapsed, the world has witnessed that despotism has no future…the world belongs to humanity, and every country belongs to its people, not a political party, nor a king or spiritual leaders”, said the Dalai Lama in an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) in July 2011, acting as if he is the “protector” of the world.

However, the author once noticed that the Dalai Lama stated in the “Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People” (delivered in November 2008) that “it would be vital that” the so-called future “autonomous organs of self-government have the authority to regulate the residence, settlement and employment or economic activities of persons who wish to move to Tibetan areas from other parts of the PRC”. This remark is a public declaration to expel non-Tibetan residents out of Tibet.

At the same time, the Dalai Lama and his followers advocated the “promotion of harmonious relationships between the Tibetan and Han people” with their tongues in cheeks, colluding with some shameless scholars to organize “Friendship Association between the Tibetan and Han people”. Through the contrast, it is evident that the Dalai Lama is a tricky liar skilled in double-dealing. His real intention of stirring up national hatred is obvious.

To be specific, the Dalai Lama was preying for support and sympathy with so-called slogan of “autonomy”, so that the feudal serfdom can be restored one day; and in the name of “protecting ethnic characteristics”, he was actually building up a “Berlin Wall” of ethnic segregation and confrontation.

The remarks of the Dalai Lama remind us of the uncontrolled and cruel Nazi during the Second World War.

Behind the Dalai Lama’s concepts of “Middle Way Approach” and “high-level autonomy” is actually the idea of ethnic separation.

How similar it is to the Holocaust committed by Hitler on the Jewish!

Q5: Who do you speak for?

On February 10, 2010, the Dalai Lama asserted that he had responsibilities to speak for 6 million Tibetans during his trip of U.S.

He always plays tricks under the cover of doing good for Tibetans. It is doubtable that the Dalai Lama would speak on the behalf Tibetans as he is sponsored by the US and his relatives work for Central Intelligence Agency.

Let us find out who does the Dalai Lama actually speaks for.

The Dalai Lama claimed himself “son of India” on November 22nd, 2009. To be filial to his “father”, Dalai frequently exclaimed that the Lhoka Prefecture in Tibet belongs to India. He even said that India was better qualified for claiming Tibet’s sovereignty.

The Dalai Lama is the largest serf-owner in the old Tibet. He enjoyed the obedience of officials and owned all land, livestock and serfs.

The secular Geluns who followed him fleeing to India are no exception from oppressors. Top leaders of the Dalai Clique are merely ordinary Tibetans.

As for lives of the Tibetan communities in exile, they live in poverty and misery which can not be compared with their counterparts in China. It is doubted whether the Dalai Lama could repay them.

The Dalai Lama is labeled as “American follower”, “Son of India” and the formerly “serf-owner”. He speaks for his overseas boss and the feudal serf system. Democracy and election, out of his feudal realm before, became his “slogan” now. What a fickle man.

There is no possibility that the Dalai Lama can serve as a qualified leader for his followers. Unless he had rewritten his gene mapping as a serf-owner and traitor, could he be the spokesman of the Tibetans, which we all know is impossible.

Q6: Who are you praying for?

The Dalai Lama always says that he admires the courage of those who have died in self-immolation incidents and he will pray for them. To win the chance of being prayed by the Dalai Lama who has special religious status, his followers are in no doubt required to imitate their “examples”. The Dalai Lama has pointed out the method: “self-immolation’.

Praying is a common thing in religion, but if it were used with despicable intention it would become curse. What is the 14th Dalai Lama actually praying for then?

At first glance, the Dalai Lama seems to have prayed a lot: he did pray for the accidents such as Japan earthquake, the tsunami in Indonesia, and Taiwan typhoon.

However, when it comes to the interests of the United States and his other supporters, the Dalai Lama must be tight-lipped regardless of creatures being trampled on. For example, recently the US soldiers shot a dozen Afghan women and children, but the Dalai Lama dared not speak even a word. How clever he is!

The Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008 killed tens of thousands of lives instantly including many Tibetans. When some of them were not confirmed dead or alive, on May 15, the Dalai Lama visited Germany. However, he made no comment on the human catastrophe when many Tibetans were suffering physical and mental pain, nor did he express a trace of sympathy. Sources said that the Dalai Lama was in inexplicable ecstasy, showing his “real gaffe “.

What’s more, the Dalai Lama did nothing for the quake-hit Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwest China’s Qinghai Province, though he murmured a few words. It was the huge investment from central government that helped the affected Tibetans to rebuild their homes quickly.

After all, the Dalai Lama’s “prayer” is just a political one. He himself should know clearly whether his title of “Nobel Peace Prize winner” is true or false. He painted camouflage of “blessing”, but the color is peeling off and the inside is being brought to light.

Q7: Why Dalai Lama is despised by Netizens?

Before each self-immolation, it was always accompanied by activities such as “religious affairs” or “assemble meeting” organized by the Dalai Clique. The Chinese netizens gave an insight into the case.

Netizens said the Dalai Lama and his followers, who were all religious figures, had intervened in politics. It should not be allowed by any civilized society.

The Dalai Lama’s motive is clear: to restore the feudal serfdom system in Tibet under the cloak of “democracy”, “election” and “peace” with helps from his foreign partners.

Neither the history nor the people would agree.

The netizens’ voices generally represent the public opinions. We wonder if the Dalai Lama is aware of the fact that he is despised by the public.

The Dalai Lama isn’t worthy of worship. He has never felt contented for his super privilege as head of the feudal serfdom society. So today it is impossible for the monk to “debase himself” and join in carrying out the “democracy”.

Here, I would like to give a piece of advice to the Dalai Lama that if he continued to place himself against the country and the people, he wouldn’t have a good end.

Don’t even think about trying to separate Tibet from China. All the 56 ethnic groups unite together here.

The following is a letter written by a netizen to the Dalai Lama and his western supporters:

I ask God, “When will Tibet be independent?”

God answers, “It is impossible until the earth comes to the end.”

I ask, “Why do some people still play tricks to split China?'”

God illustrates, “They are ignorant, boring and inhuman.”

I am confused and ask, “Why don’t you punish them?'”

God says, “I am in charge of human beings’ behaviors rather than domestic animals.”

I ask, “Who will be responsible for them?'”

God answers contemptuously, “You’d better ask ‘Miss Liberty’ in US.'”

“The white pretentious woman standing at the harbor called ‘Liberty’? ”

“Yes, it is her.'”

“Well, to be frank, I don’t believe in her.”

*note: Originally published on China Tibet OnlineMarch 23, 2012.

The Dubious Legacy of César Chávez

by Michael Yates

review of Randy Shaw’s Beyond the Fields: César Chávez, the UFW, and Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), 347 pp., $24.95.

The thesis of this book is simple. Randy Shaw argues that most of the social movements of the contemporary U.S.—labor, immigrant rights, antiwar, worker and consumer health and safety, anti-sweatshop—are fundamentally the progeny of César Chávez and the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. Shaw attempts to prove this by showing that UFW alumni have been critical leaders of these movements, and these causes have employed tactics pioneered by Chávez and the farm workers. Shaw’s argument is deeply flawed.

It is certainly true that thousands of young people, radical activists, trade unionists, clergy, and assorted other actors, politicians, writers, and artists worked for or with the UFW during its heyday from the mid-1960s until about 1980. I did, in the winter of 1977, when I worked at La Paz, the union’s headquarters in Keene, California. For most of us, our UFW experiences were exciting and meaningful. We carried them with us, and they informed our lives and actions.

But the same things could be said about the IWW before the First World War; the CIO or the Communist Party during the 1930s; or the SDS, the SWP, and the antiwar and the civil rights movements of the 1960s. Of course, there were historical continuities in all of these movements—a problem for Shaw’s arguments. The UFW didn’t spring full-blown from the body and mind of César Chávez and his mentor Fred Ross. There is history here, and Shaw, by and large, ignores it. Would the UFW have been possible without the radical Filipino farm workers who started the organizing? The Filipinos drew strength from struggles in their homeland and from the CIO upheavals of the Great Depression. The union used the boycott to good effect, at least in the beginning, and its use of volunteers to staff boycott offices in every major city in the United States and some in Canada was innovative. But the boycott built the AFL in the 1880s and 1890s. Similarly, the civil rights movement used boycotts, nonviolent demonstrations, and volunteers by the thousands, the sorts of tactics that Shaw attributes to Chávez’s genius. Certainly, someone could write a similar book using this movement as its template. The UFW was not unique.

Flaws up close

Consider three points, two small and one large.

First, Shaw says that, “During the 1950s, Chávez met Father Donald McDonnell, who introduced him …to a recent encyclical from Pope Leo XIII on the church’s support for workers who protested unfair labor conditions.” The encyclical, Rerum Novarum (“Of New Things”), was written in 1891, which hardly made it recent. But Shaw doesn’t say that the Pope wrote it in response to the growing popularity of left-wing unions and politics among working people. It is an anti-socialist screed, aimed at Catholic workers. It is very much a defense of capitalism, and only goes so far as to suggest that capitalists must treat workers fairly.

Shaw makes much of the UFW’s alliance with religious groups and clergy, and there is no doubt that church support for the farmworkers’ struggles helped the union immensely. However, the close relationship the UFW and Chávez had with churches was a mixed blessing. The Catholic Church is a hierarchical, dogmatic, and sexist organization. The Church view is, at best, that the poor are worthy sinners who have to be looked after by the priests, who, like Christ, sacrifice for them.

Chávez imbibed this paternalistic ethic, and the ministers, who flocked to the union and were powerful within it, encouraged him. Chávez said that to sacrifice is to be a man. With the union’s successes, Chávez began to think of himself as a holy person, Christ-like and above reproach. Once in a community meeting at La Paz, César was criticized by some of us for making an incredibly sexist remark. He became enraged and said, “I work eighteen fucking hours a day for the union. Who of you can say the same?”

How do you challenge Christ?

Is it any wonder that when Chávez showed his disdain for rank-and-file power in the union, almost none of the clergy challenged him? Or many of his staff or board members either? Is it surprising that Chávez was a staunch anti-communist and engaged in vicious and mindless purges and red-baiting of those who challenged his authority?

Chávez had a history, and the social doctrines of the Catholic church were part of it. Unfortunately, Shaw ignores the seamier side of these. You would never know from this book that the Church did some evil deeds during the great CIO movement of the 1930s, even informing about left-wing labor leaders to the FBI.

The Game

The final chapter in the book contains a long list of UFW alumni who have continued to fight the good fight. It is a kind of “shout out” to these often unrecognized models of courage and social solidarity and an attempted empirical validation of Shaw’s thesis. There are some curious inclusions and omissions, and these raise a second point of criticism. Under the heading “Labor Organizer/Union Staff,” we find the name, Fred Hirsch. Fred is a communist plumber, and he was one of the first researchers to uncover the close relationship between certain unions and the CIA. He worked diligently in support of the UFW, beginning in the 1960s. Fred did not owe his politics or dedication to labor to Chávez or the UFW but to the communist movement.

Fred’s daughter, Liza, who is not on Shaw’s list, began working with (and then for) the union from age twelve. I helped her develop a piece rate proposal for tomato pickers at a ranch near Oxnard, California. We shared a friendship with a volunteer at La Paz, a man who did carpentry and maintenance work for the union.

In the winter of 1977, Chávez hooked up with Charles Dederich, who ran a drug rehabilitation center called Synanon. (To his credit, Shaw discusses this in a chapter on the UFW’s decline). Dederich had concocted a psychological warfare scheme called the “Game,” in which addicts were subjected to relentless group attacks, the idea being to break down their psyches so they could start over again, without drugs. At the time of Chávez’s fascination with Synanon and the “Game,” Dederich was a megalomaniacal cult leader, abusing his clientele. A reporter who exposed the organization found a rattlesnake in his mailbox.

César took to the “game” like Stalin to the secret police, and he used it for the same purpose—to consolidate his power in the union. He took some trusted members of his inner circle to Synanon for training and began immediately to force the game upon the staff. On April 4, 1977, he incited a screaming mob of “Game” initiates to purge the union of “troublemakers.” All sorts of ridiculous charges were made against “enemies of the union,” including our carpenter friend. When our friend confronted Caesar and demanded to face his accusers in a hearing, as the union’s constitution stated was his right, Chávez called the Mojave police and had him arrested for trespassing.

The last time I saw him was at Fred Hirsch’s house in San Jose, after we bailed him out of jail. A few weeks later, Liza went to La Paz to attend the wedding of a friend. César, with whom she had been very close and in whose house she had once lived, summarily threw her off the property and expelled her from the union.

Wreckage

If the UFW positively changed some peoples’ lives, it harmed and wrecked others. Shaw certainly knows this; he just chose not to mention it. He devotes considerable space to the admirable parts of the life and work of famed UFW leader Dolores Huerta, who is also on his list. He uses her as a prime example of the importance of the UFW in training and nurturing social change activists. She has won every imaginable award given to women leaders and been in the forefront of many struggles.

But Huerta has never repudiated Chávez’s dictatorial, hateful, and ruinous behavior. She could have, and it might have made a difference. Instead, she was and still is a Chávez apologist. Shaw reports that she was unhappy with the treatment of women in the union. She says that women need to have power. She doesn’t say for what. Had she been union president, I doubt things would have turned out much different.

Also absent from Shaw’s list of UFW luminaries is Chávez’s son, Paul. The younger Chávez still lives at La Paz, from where he runs a group of interlinked union enterprises, including radio stations and housing companies. The union raises money from these and many other sources: mass mailing fund-raising, marketing the Chávez name to sell union trinkets and win public grants, political consulting, and managing union trust funds. The union has precious few members; a handful of members collect pensions or get health care from the trust funds (though they sit on tens of millions of dollars); and the union leadership seems little concerned about any of this. Paul Chávez is paid more than $125,000 for his “services” to farm workers.

A charitable description of today’s UFW is that it has become a quasi-racket. Another UFW legacy Shaw neglects to discuss. Chávez created an undemocratic union of migrant workers. He ran it as if it were his property. History tells us that such an organization is ripe for corruption. And so it was.

Legacy

The final and most serious flaw of Shaw’s analysis shows itself in the opening pages, where he says, “This legacy should not be based on the size of the UFW’s current membership rolls. Rather, it should be evaluated by the impact of its ideas and alumni on current social justice struggles.”

Let’s see now. The UFW managed, despite long odds, to organize farm workers, attract thousands of talented volunteers to its banner, build a feared grassroots political action machine, defeat the Teamsters and the sweetheart contracts it had signed with growers, and win passage of a farm workers’ labor law unmatched by any other such statute in the country. By 1977, the union was poised to achieve a mass membership that would have made it a power to be reckoned with in California, and maybe in the entire nation.

But then, under Chávez’s autocratic leadership, the union dissolved the boycott staff, firing its leader and accusing him of being a communist; purged its staff, using the most disgusting means imaginable; refused to entertain any local union autonomy and democracy; denied the election of actual farm workers to the union board; ruined the careers, and in some cases, the jobs, of rank-and-file union dissidents; lost almost all of its collective bargaining agreements, and began a long and ugly descent into corruption.

Today, farm workers in California are no better off than they were before the union came on the scene. They still don’t often live past fifty; they still suffer the same job-related injuries and illnesses; they still don’t have unions; they are still at the bottom of the labor market barrel. How is all of this not an important, indeed critical, legacy of the UFW? If we judge the union and Chávez in terms of the well-being of the workers they set out to organize, both must be judged utter failures. If we compare the UFW to any number of the CIO’s left-led unions, for example, the United Packinghouse Workers of America, the Farmworkers pale by comparison. The UPWA was not only a multiracial and democratic union. It also led the struggle to end segregation at work and in the workers’ communities, and it put the pay of the black and immigrant laborers who did the unenviable work of slaughtering the animals we eat on a par with those of steel and auto workers.

A union is supposed to organize workers and improve their lives. Chávez and the UFW had their chances, and they threw them away. Imagine that Martin Luther King had sought and taken advice from Chuck Dederich after his “I Have a Dream” speech. And after that, imagine that he had forced the Memphis garbagemen to play the “Game.” Surely historians would count that as a major part of his legacy.

Alumni

And if we follow Shaw’s lead and look to the “impact of ideas and alumni on current social justice struggles,” we are still left with serious problems. Consider two outstanding alumni, Marshall Ganz and Eliseo Medina.

Ganz was a master organizer, of both union and political campaigns, and he has put this skill, which he learned in the UFW, to use after he left the union. He has led election campaigns for former U.S. senator Alan Cranston, and he was a key organizer in getting Nancy Pelosi elected to Congress. He now teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Shaw makes much of the get-out-the-vote techniques Ganz has mastered. However, these were not new when he used them. The AFL-CIO employed them, and most of the tactics Shaw traces to the UFW, in a 1977 campaign to defeat a right-to-work ballot measure in Missouri. I don’t find Ganz’s work for the Democratic Party to be particularly progressive either. Nancy Pelosi? An old-line political hack trained in the art of politics by the king of pork, John Murtha?

With Medina, we can make a similar criticism. He did many good things with the UFW and after he left. But he was the one person who could have mounted a challenge to Chávez. He chose not to, and he has, to my knowledge, never repudiated the reprehensible tactics Chávez used with the “Game.”

There may be good reason for this. Today, Medina is a senior vice-president of SEIU, a union that has used somewhat similar tactics, but in a situation where the union is loaded with money. The SEIU hires scads of young nonmember organizers, puts them though a cult-like training (the same seems to be true of another union, HERE, which also has many former UFW people on it staff, and which even uses a variant of the “Game” to train new staffers), works them to death, gives them no power inside the union, brooks no criticism, and confines their education to the technocratic mechanics of organizing. They learn little about the labor movement, economics, and the many other things that would help them develop a radical, worker-centered ideology.

The same was true in the UFW; César even sent a spy to monitor a labor history class I had begun to teach interested staff. The SEIU is completely staff-dominated—and staff make a great deal of money—Medina is a long way from his UFW penury. His total compensation in 2006: $194,336. SEIU leadership is as fearful and intolerant of union democracy and rank-and-file power as the UFW. If local workers assert themselves, there is a good chance that their local will be put in trusteeship by the national union—exactly what happened recently to a large local of healthcare workers in California. It has been trusteed, and Medina is at the center of the whole sordid episode. [Randy Shaw himself, on the civil war within SEIU, is here; a more radical view, from Steve Early, here.]

SEIU is not above threatening to sue its critics, just like the UFW threatened to sue The Nation magazine in 1977 after it published an article I wrote critical of the union. Also, like the UFW, the SEIU has witnessed serious incidents of corruption, involving theft of money and shady dealings with third parties. There is a separate heading for SEIU in Shaw’s table of UFW notables. It is certainly debatable whether this legacy of the UFW is a positive one.

The problem with Shaw is that he simply assumes that the various movements and causes UFW alumni have either led or worked in are good. He doesn’t ask whether what they are doing is what needs to be done to build a better society. Get out the vote for what? Boycott for what? Organize workers for what? Teach people to organize for what?

I enjoyed the parts of Shaw’s book that recount the UFW’s epic battles. But I did not find the rest of it credible or penetrating. An objective history of César Chávez, the UFW, and the union’s legacy has yet to be written.

*note: This article is original to the Left Business Observer website and can be found here. (c) Copyright 2009, Michael Yates. All rights reserved. Michael Yates is Associate Editor of Monthly Review. A new edition of his book, Why Unions Matter, is just out. His blog is here.

Syria: Heralding a Change in the International Strategic Situation?

Granma International English Edition
by Ernesto Gomez Abascal

Evidently the Cold War ended in the final decade of the 20th century with the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the European socialist countries, but the U.S. plan of domination enshrined in the Project for the New American Century, drawn up by a group of neoconservative and Zionist strategists, remains in the minds of Washington politicians.

However, Democrat and Republican priorities on the imperial agenda remain. These are: control of the Near East given its energy resources and strategic position, the elimination of governments who stand up to or interfere with its interests, and to exclude the emergence of new rival powers.

While it is a fact that things have not been going well for the U.S. government in Afghanistan and Iraq, this has not resulted in a change of plans, but merely adjustments to the new conditions. Imperialism has many years of experience in methods of regime change, as we in Latin America know very well.

In Libya, included for years on the list of seven countries whose governments had to be changed, the United States was initially successful, having taken advantage of some inconsistencies on the part of Muammar Gaddafi, and certain lack of popularity for the leader. Then came an intensive media campaign, Arab League cover and backing, which facilitated a UN Security Council resolution, and subsequently, a large part of the country’s infrastructure was bombed by NATO aircraft, thousands of Libyans were killed, and a government subordinated to its interests was installed in Tripoli. Libya’s large oil reserves are now more accessible to U.S. and European corporations, although the chaos created in the country has created an uncertain future.

While this was taking place in Libya, the CIA and its allies in the NATO special services were working on the next country listed, Syria. It has been acknowledged that hundreds of Syrians were trained and armed in Turkey and other countries ill disposed toward the Damascus government, especially those of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and in areas of the Lebanon under the control the March 14 alliance (directed by the Hariri clan, pro‑Saudi and linked to the French government). These Syrians are predominantly Sunnis and members of the illegal and extremist Muslim Brotherhood, but include mercenaries from other Arab countries, and commandos trained for special operations. These have received a large supply of modern armaments, sophisticated communications equipment and information via NATO satellite networks.

The predominantly Alawite Damascus government, a strong ally of Iran and a supporter of the Lebanese patriotic forces headed by Hezbollah, which controls power in Beirut, had genuine problems – as do all countries in the region and a large part of the world, including the most developed countries. These include repression, lack of democracy, and corruption, and this has provoked malaise within the population, leading to demonstrations initially encouraged by those in other countries of the region, and which were repressed particularly where they originated, in the southern city of Daraa, right on the border with Jordan.

The media war machine was immediately activated against Syria, as was the case with Libya. In Cuba, Venezuela and other Latin America countries we have become experts on how this operates, having suffered it for many years, and we also know how to combat it, despite disadvantageous material conditions given the enormous propaganda resources possessed by the enemy. Even with the abovementioned defects, the Syrian government was practising a non-sectarian policy in the religious context and one of relative social justice, anti‑imperialist and anti‑Zionist. It has been an ally of progressive causes in the South and an obstacle to U.S. and Israeli plans in the region. Allegations intended to discredit it, to the effect that its policy of peace serves Israeli interests, have no serious foundation.

Installing a pro‑Western government in Damascus would propitiate a change of government in Lebanon and possibly another war there to eliminate the power of Hezbollah, an ally of Iran together with Syria, and viewed as enemies by the Sunni Gulf monarchies, who submit to Western policy in return for protection from an alleged Iranian threat, even though no war has been initiated by that country for centuries.

If the plan concerning Syria is consummated, the Western powers would move against Tehran and, along the way, crush the resistance of Palestine, obliging it to accept crumbs of territory and the minimum rights which Israeli Zionists would be disposed to concede to the people. The U.S. “Grand Middle East” would be completed with its extension to Central Asia, and the siege of Russia and China would be laid.

However, Syria is not Libya. Although its leaders have made undeniable errors and have acted slowly in response to the conspiracy and plans of its powerful enemies, thus losing a lot of time and ground, it would seem to have sufficient internal support and resources to stand up to its enemies and defeat them, albeit at a heavy price in terms of death and destruction.

Apparently, a clear perception of this reality prompted Russian and Chinese representatives to use their veto in the February 4 Security Council vote on a resolution which – regardless of its text, as was the case with Libya – would open the gates to foreign intervention in order to destroy the country and impose a regime change. The highest authorities in both countries have clearly declared a red line and they are not prepared to allow a military intervention in Syria.

The firm stand of Moscow and Beijing and the cooperation they are giving the Syrian government, appears to be starting to change the situation on the ground. The Lebanese army has been mobilized to the border in an attempt to prevent the entry of mercenaries and military supplies into the neighbouring area of Homs, center of the anti‑government uprising and whose capital city was intended to become the Benghazi of Syria. Syrian government forces have recently moved onto the offensive there.

The Baghdad government, now closer to Iran’s influence than to that of the United States, is also trying to prevent Sunni Islamic extremists – possibly linked to Al Qaeda and receiving funds from Saudi Arabia and Qatar – from continuing to infiltrate into Syrian territory. Recent terrorist attacks on the Shiite population in various parts of Iraq would seem to be a message of protest from Saudi Arabia and the United States given the change in position in favour of Syria adopted by the Iraqi government.

Turkey and Jordan, two other countries to have adopted belligerent positions against the Damascus government, are beginning to make more moderate statements. There are even signs of concern in Western capitals at the possibility of extremist Islamic forces linked to Al Qaeda coming to power in Syria in the case of the current executive being defeated.

The situation is highly fluid and extremely complex, but if Syria succeeds in resisting this imperialist, and Zionist counterrevolutionary aggression, and if Russia and China remain firm, there could be a defeat of strategic magnitude. Iran would emerge strengthened and new alliances could be established to oppose imperialist plans of domination. The countries of the BRICS group, the newly independent countries of Latin America, especially the strong core members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), are in agreement with the principals of a foreign policy opposed to aggression, and would favour the negotiated solution to conflicts. They also defend justice, sovereignty and non‑intervention, all of which could initiate the beginnings of a newmultipolar balance in the world.

The grave economic crisis affecting the major capitalist powers and the debilitation this implies, in conjunction with the indignados movement, could significantly contribute to this potential panorama.

(Ernesto Abascal was the Cuban ambassador to Iraq.)

*note: Granma is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba. You can visit their International English website here. The original article is here.

No Move Left for NDP

People’s Voice Editorial

     With Thomas Mulcair as the new leader of the NDP, it appears that Canada’s mass social democratic party will likely continue its long-term drift to the political centre. In fact, none of the seven candidates who made it to the ballot were clearly associated with strong left positions, even on issues where working people favour a move towards genuine progressive reforms.

For example, a growing majority of voters support increased taxes on the wealthy and the corporations, to help shift the tax burden from the needy to the greedy and to help pay for vital social programs. Yet no NDP leadership candidate made more than a timid gesture in this direction. Nor did any of them mention the need for public ownership of critical economic sectors such as the energy industry – even though nearly half of Canadians back such a demand, according to surveys over recent years.

Mulcair brings a particularly poor record on issues of peace and war to his new post. Canada already has a viciously anti-Palestinian Prime Minister, and now we also have an Official Opposition leader who has been vehemently pro-Israel in his public statements. Nor did Mr. Mulcair raise any objection to the Harper government’s aggressive militarist foreign policy. The NDP has shifted from its identification with the anti-war movement of a decade ago, into the camp of those who support imperialist interventions in the name of “humanitarian intervention.”

None of this is any big surprise – the NDP has been on a trajectory away from left policies for many years. But those who counsel “keeping our powder dry” by blocking attempts to mobilize public opposition against the Harper Tories – so that we can elect an NDP government in 2015 – are making a huge mistake. More than ever, the main focus of opposition to the Tory/corporate agenda must be extraparliamentary, in our workplaces and communities.