Monday, October 17, 2016

Islamophobia protest in Chapel Hill tomorrow and other upcoming events

Fight for $15 Community Meeting:

The campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 is holding a community meeting tonight (October 17th) at 6:30 at the Raise Up office (2220 North Roxboro Street in Durham). 

Protesting Islamophobia in Chapel Hill:

A coalition of groups is planning a protest October 18th, 6-8pm outside of Extraordinary Adventures (200 South Elliot Road), where ICON (Issues Confronting Our Nation) is hosting a speech by Diana West.  According to MERI (Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia) both Diana West and ICON vilify Muslims and immigrants, and groups asked the venue, Extraordinary Ventures, to disallow the 7pm speech.  For more information, see:

NC Environmental Justice Summit 2016:

The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network is holding its 18th annual conference October 21-22nd at the Historic Franklinton Center at Bricks (281 Southbend Lane) in Whitakers (in Edgecombe County).  For more information see: and there are videos at

Durham People's Alliance 40th Anniversary & Taste of Living Wage Durham Party:

The event will honor activists for progress and discuss the PA's vision for Durham at this meeting, with food from local living wage businesses Saturday, October 22nd, 5-8pm at SEEDS (706 Gilbert Street, Durham).  For tickets, see:

Second Linking Liberation Struggles forum:

For more information, see (they also have a calendar of events organized by various groups) and
This is AIME's press release:

"On Monday October 24, 6-8:30 p.m. at North Carolina Central University, the Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East will present a second conference called Linking Liberation Struggles:  Pursuing Global Awareness and CivicEngagement.  Speakers are Native American activist Tennyson Welbourne; African American Durham City Council member Jillian Johnson; and Palestinian organizer Zaina Alsous. 
Respondents, including Latino, Jewish, and immigrant community members, will explore the relationships among these historic and current movements. Moderators Rev. Paul McAllister Founder Global Leaders in Unity and Evolvement and Dr. Omid Safi, Director Duke Islamic Studies Center, will lead the dialogue among panelists, NCCU students and faculty, and community members. 
Co-sponsors:  American Friends Service Committee, Balance and Accuracy in Jounalism, Black Workers for Justice, Coalition for Peace with Justice, Eisenhower Chapter of Veterans for Peace, Faculty Forward NC, Ignite NC, Jewish Voice for Peace, Movement to End Racism & Islamophobia, Muslim American Public Affairs Council, Muslims for Social Justice, NC Council of Churches, NC Peace Action, NC Women United St. Cyprians’s Episcoopal Church/Oxford, Salaam Shalom Committee of Church of Reconciliation, Students for Justice in Palestine UNC-CH, Women’s League for Peace & Freedom. 
For background material and more information about speakers, panelists, and sponsors, see
Miller Morgan (Health) Building
North Carolina Central University
528 Nelson Street
Parking nearby
Approach from Fayetteville Street" 
Triangle Friends of Farmworkers Benefit Dinner for FLOC:
TFF is hosting a dinner to raise money for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, Sunday, October 29th 6-8pm at the Durham Center Park Cohousing Community (130 Hunt Street in Durham).  Justin Flores, FLOC vice president and head of organizing efforts in the state, a rank and file leader, and a youth leader from Dudley, NC will speak and there will be music by Sue Gilbertson, Charlie Thompson, and others, and home-made Mexican food.  To reserve a seat call or text local co-chair Miriam Thompson at 917 825 0884 or email TFF Coordinator Dave Austin at daustin at mindspring dot com.      
Contributions can also be made by sending a check made out to the Center for Migrant Worker Justice (a 501(c)(3) working with FLOC) to Dave Austin at 130 Hunt Street Apartment 407 Durham, North Carolina 27701 or go through their website,  Donations can be sent directly to FLOC at 1221 Broadway Street, Toledo Ohio 43609, but are not tax-deductible.   
Book Sales:
According to, the Chapel Hill Public Library is holding a sale December 2-4.  Some other upcoming library book sales in the state are in Asheville and Columbus October 20-22, Marshal October 22-29, Washington, NC January 20-22, Greenville February 3-5, and Jacksonville, NC February 17-18.  Other sales are monthly or ongoing, including in Durham libraries.  I assume the big Wake County sale at the State Fair grounds will be in December, but a date hasn't been announced on their website yet.   

Friday, October 07, 2016

Update and Anniversary of Attack on Afghanistan

Because of the hurricane, the Durham Monarch Festival scheduled for tomorrow is being cancelled, and no rain date was set, so the next one will be October 14, 2017.  It looks like the Friends of the Durham Library Fall Book Sale will go ahead as scheduled over the next three days (the sale this evening is for FODL members only, but people can join at the door).  Below is an event at Recyclique in Durham tonight, and later I will post details about the Linking Liberation Struggles forum at NCCU October 24th, upcoming Cary and Wake County book sales, etc.  

"This Fri. Oct. 7, 6:30 pm – Durham’s "Goldleaf” Worker Co-op: Growing a Caring Economy,
by Ruth Backstrom. A behind-the-scenes look at the building of an exciting new worker-owned commercial cleaning co-op in Durham, inspired by the Cleveland Evergreen and Mondragon models. What can co-ops contribute to the shifts we need to make to support the needs of everyone in our communities? What are their promises and their limitations? Join us for an exploration of these questions led by Ruth, who is part of the team building Goldleaf. Refreshments served. At Recyclique, 2811 Hillsborough Rd., Durham 27705.  Suggested donations of $5, no one turned away.  Park in rear or next door in the Food Lion lot.  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[Next week they will be showing "Devil's Advocate," about the relationship between morality and law]
Interested in joining a multi-party yard sale in our front yard (2811 Hillsborough Rd.) Sat. Oct. 15th? If so, email yikes dot contact at gmail dot com by Mon. If there is enough interest we’ll hold it and run a newspaper ad."

From A World To Win News Service:

This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 3 October 2016 contains two articles. They may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as they are credited.

Web site:
To subscribe:

Write to us – send us information, comments, criticisms, suggestions and articles: aworldtowinns at yahoo dot co dot uk

Syrian children: A question that answers itself
US-led occupation of Afghanistan: 15 years of hell for the people with no end in sight

Syrian children: a question that answers itself

3 October 2016. A World to Win News Service. The US, UK and France have turned the horrible attacks on civilians in eastern Aleppo into an occasion to score a propaganda victory against their Russian rivals and Syria's Bashar Asad regime. The bombings of civilians certainly is a war crime, as they claim, and even if this area is a stronghold of Islamic fundamentalist fighters, as Russia claims, such atrocities reveal that both sides are atrocious murderers. But for all the West's talk about the children of Aleppo – with pictures of wounded and dismayed little children that should break anyone's heart – what happens when these same children or others like them, in Syria or other countries where the suffering of children has reached massive proportions, try to flee to safety?

Does the West show concern for their treatment in abysmal refugee camps in Turkey and Greece, where refugees feel they are deliberately being made to suffer as punishment for leaving Syria, and to dissuade others from joing them?

Why do the Nato powers refuse to use their naval resources to conduct search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean? Why have they abandoned such operations, with the exception of the Italian Coast Guard, and a Greek Coast Guard that has been stripped of its efficacy by EU-imposed cutbacks, so that lives depend on the efforts of fishermen and NGO volunteers?

What about the estimated one thousand unaccompanied children – children who have lost or become separated from their parents – trying to stay alive in Calais, France, in a camp the world's barbarian authorities like to call "the jungle," even though its inhabitants help each other out remarkably given the circumstances? So far the French authorities have refused to help even these children, let alone all the children and adults who desperately need it, in a flagrant violation of French and international law. The British government has washed its hands of their fate, even though many of these children have family in the UK and are therefore legally entitled to asylum there. For the US, it's Europe's problem.

Is the West's fake "concern" for children anything but another weapon to be wielded in its clash with rival reactionaries?
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US-led occupation of Afghanistan: 15 years of hell for the people with no end in sight

3 October 2016. A World to Win News Service. The occupation of Afghanistan by a coalition of Western powers headed by the US will have lasted fifteen full years as of 7 October.

Instead of any sign of an end to this war, there are new plans for it to continue. US President Barack Obama, speaking on 6 July this year, outlined his plan to keep 8,400 US soldiers in Afghanistan after his presidential term comes to an end in January 2017, along with more than 6,000 Nato and other so-called coalition forces.

This is contrary to the promise Obama made during his campaign for the presidency eight years ago. After several gyrations during his term, beginning with a drastic increase in 2009 in the number of troops from the level set by his predecessor President George W. Bush in a futile attempt to win quick victory, and then large-scale troop reductions, in the end he has opted to continue the occupation.

It has been proven over and over again that making war is a permanent job of any president in order to fulfill US imperialist interests, and Obama could not be an exception. Despite his efforts to pretend he is not a warmonger, the US has been at war throughout his entire presidency. It has troops fighting in Afghanistan, and now again in Iraq (where Obama just sent additional troops to bring the number of US forces to more than 5,000), as well as in Syria and Libya. American bombs and missiles are also killing people in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

In his statement announcing the prolongation of the war in Afghanistan, Obama tried to downplay the importance of this decision.

"Compared to their previous mission – helping to lead the fight – our forces are now focused on two narrow missions: training and advising Afghan forces, and supporting counter-terrorist operations against the remnants of al-Qaeda as well as other terrorist groups, including ISIL [the Islamic State or Daesh]... Every day, nearly 320,000 Afghan soldiers and police are serving and fighting, and many are giving their lives to defend their country." (This and subsequent quotations from that speech are from the transcript released by the White House on 6 July 2016.)

In order to cover up the real intention of the war and the real cost to the Afghan people, Obama referred to gains he claimed have been due to this war.

"With our support, Afghanistan is a better place than it once was. Millions of Afghan children – boys and girls – are in school. Dramatic improvements in public health have saved the lives of mothers and children. Afghans have cast their ballots in democratic elections and seen the first democratic transfer of power in their country's history. That government is a strong partner with us in combating terrorism. That's the progress we've helped make possible."

After 15 years of occupation and imposing a brutal war on the people that has caused tremendous suffering, all that Obama could point to is a number of boys and girls going back to school and unsatisfactory improvements in public health that he falsely calls "dramatic". Neither the number of children in school nor public health have regained the levels reached before the Western imperialist intervention to support certain jihadis, the brand of Islamic fundamentalist friendly to the US and Pakistan at that time, in a war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979-89 [Note that the US government began using fundamentalists to destabilize revolutionary and secular Afghanistan before Soviet forces entered the country and that US support for fundamentalists created al Qaida and the situation today.  On the other hand, the USSR entered the US trap by intervening to empower the less radical faction of the governing People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, though the government was able to fight on for a while even after the USSR was destroyed].

Obama's reference to ballots and "democratic elections" is especially hypocritical, since the winners of the elections arranged by the US have been Hamid Karzai and then Ashraf Ghani, leaders of one of the world's most corrupt regimes, even according to US officials and media. Even with support from the occupiers, still both of them had to rig the elections in order to win. Obama's statement is not much different from what he said about Iraq on 14 December 2011:
"We're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people." (, 29 December 2014)

A "sovereign country" where the US appointed the regime, in cooperation with reactionary forces in the region such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, a place where foreign interference has made political life a sideshow for most Iraqis. A "stable" country where competition between these powers has constantly roiled conflicts, and Daesh has been able to advance up to within a few miles of the capital Baghdad. Obama made no reference to Abu Ghraib and other prisons where the US forces tortured and murdered people, mainly ordinary people, enabling the conversion of these prisoners into Daesh supporters. He made no reference to the bloody sectarian war that the US triggered and fuelled, resulting in the murder of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of millions. He made no reference to the Islamisation of Iraq under the US-led occupation that dramatically changed the life of Iraqi people and especially women, and finally gave birth to horrible forces such as Daesh. He made no reference to other horrific consequences this has inflicted on the people of Iraq and Middle East.

Similarly, in his statement on Afghanistan, Obama made no reference to what the people of Afghanistan have gone through due to an unjust and brutal war waged by the Western imperialists. He didn't refer to tens of thousands of innocents who lost their lives due to bombardment and the war. He made no reference to the terrorised children who woke up in the middle of night to see their parents held at gunpoint by US troops. He did not mention the people who were repeatedly stopped and searched by the occupier forces. For the last fifteen years, the US has launched bomb and missile attacks on many village gatherings. In the latest, a US drone strike hit a village celebration in Nangarhar province on 28 September, killing at least 15 civilians and injuring another 13, according to the UN. (Guardian, 30 September)

Obama boasts about the "dramatic" improvements in public health, but doesn't mention the hospitals bombarded. In one of the most notorious incidents, a US gunship destroyed a Medecins Sans Frontiers hospital in Kunduz in September 2015, murdering at least 42 patients and medical personnel and injuring another 30.

In talking about the corrupt regime the US had "democratically" elected, Obama doesn't mention the rights of the many thousands who were insulted, imprisoned and horrifically tortured at Bagram and other US and Nato-controlled military bases in Afghanistan, people who were arrested and falsely accused of connections with al-Qaeda or the Taliban, and who, after they were released, became determined to join the Taliban. He doesn't mention those tortured to death even without the formality of a trial.

Obama referred to combating terrorists groups, but he made no reference to the fact that Islamic fundamentalists are stronger than ever in Afghanistan, thanks to the occupation. Once hated by the majority of the people in Afghanistan, now due to the occupiers and their appointed regime and its atrocities the Taliban have managed to gain support in many parts of the country, even places where they never had much before, such as Badakhshan, in the northern part of the country. He did not say that Daesh is gaining ground in Afghanistan too. The US-led occupation has been a huge factor in the fundamentalists' growing strength.

The occupation has brought nothing like liberation to Afghanistan's women. In fact they have been the worst victims of this occupation and war. Their most basic rights have been put on sale explicitly and implicitly to keep US-favoured jihadis happy and draw the Taliban to the negotiating table. This has resulted in some of the most scandalous cases such as the amendment of family laws, the rape and kidnapping of young women with impunity, and the climate that led to crimes like the notorious murder of Farkhunda and the stoning of Rakhshana.

What about the reconstruction of the economy and the nation-building initially promised by the occupiers? Obama prefers to say nothing about that, either. We can see for ourselves the features of an economy that has been "reconstructed" by the US and other imperialist occupiers. The Afghan economy is mainly built on growing poppy for opium production and export. Afghanistan currently supplies about 90 percent of the world opium market. Millions of people are employed or involved in some way in the drug trade. Both the US occupiers and the Taliban encourage this.

Another pillar of the Afghan economy is the "aid" provided by the occupiers and other donor countries. The US government has injected $115 billion into the Afghan economy, supposedly for the country's reconstruction. (New York Times, 17 September 2016) As a result, the economy became addicted to money provided by the occupiers. Further, this produced enormous corruption, especially among jihadist warlords and other government bureaucrats. The overall situation has left millions no choice but to either leave the country or live on the money family members abroad send back home. Not only have decades of war forced millions to seek refuge in neighbouring and other countries, but now the current economic situation is also pushing the more well-off section of people and especially the younger generation to leave the country and look elsewhere for a home.

The US imperialists have spent more than a trillion dollars in a war that has directly caused the deaths of more than 150,000 civilians and soldiers and wounded many more. The war has also indirectly caused the death of hundreds of thousands of others and the suffering of millions of people. This has certainly not been done to bring some boys and girls back to school, but in pursuit of the US's global interest and regional interests.

Reducing troops to continue the occupation

Boasting about his efforts to deflate US involvement, Obama cited the reduction of US troops from 100,000 to fewer than 10,000 and the alleged change in their mission, from fighting to training and advising Afghan forces and supporting counter-terrorist operations. But he immediately referred to 320,000 Afghan soldiers and police the US is trying to organize to fight its battles in Afghanistan.

First of all, reducing the numbers doesn’t change the nature of the mission. The nearly 15,000 troops from the US and its "coalition" are many more than enough to make them invaders and occupiers. Consider that the US and its allies started their occupation with 30,000 troops. Secondly, regardless of their numbers, these forces are pursuing the same goal that has guided them since the 2001 invasion, to dominate Afghanistan and control a strategically important region, and serve the regional and global interests of US imperialism. Keeping 100,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan was unsustainable for the US. The draw-down did not change the nature of the war or represent anything like an end to the war. It was a change in tactics by Obama and his administration and its military leaders to make that war sustainable at the cost of Afghan lives. The Afghan national army lost nearly 3,000 officers and soldiers in 2013, and since then its losses have at least doubled.

The US has also been trying to "legalise" its military and political presence for the indefinite future by arranging a bilateral strategic treaty with the Afghan government. This treaty, signed by president Ghani, discloses the US's real intention, which is to continue the occupation as long as it can. It gives the US continued access to nine major land and air bases, including Bagram, Jalalabad and Kandhar. It allows the US to keep its aircraft and many Special Forces and "advisers" in the country at least until the end of 2024, with the option of renewing the treaty at that time. This agreement also gives immunity to US troops from any Afghani law. No US soldier can be arrested or put on trial by Afghans.

The war with Taliban

The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan was followed by several years of bloody infighting among the jihadi warlords who had led the war against them. Cvilians were slaughtered. Much of Kabul was destroyed. This led many people to support the Taliban takeover in the 1990s, organized by Pakistan, with support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the implicit agreement of the US. After the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, the US decided it had to intervene directly in Afghanistan. But the people that the US and its allies put in power in place of the Taliban were not much different ideologically. The difference was that they were more friendly to the US and the West, or opportunistically appeared that way, or did not care who dominated the country as long as they had a share in the power. After the US-led invasion, the Taliban took advantage of the discontent among Afghans about the occupation and the atrocities committed by the occupiers and their appointed regime, which became more widespread as the war continued.

The US is aware of the extreme corruption of the regime and the atrocities committed by its armed forces because they are trained to do so, but they are simply incapable of doing without all this. The US is also well aware that after 15 years the war is deadlocked.

The Taliban faces serious limitations. They no longer enjoy the US support or neutrality that enabled them to come to power two decades ago. They are a reactionary and fundamentalist force. When in power, they are brutal and oppressive to women, non-Pashtun nationalities, and other religions, and so they will have a hard time uniting many provinces and peoples. The contradiction between their Pashtun chauvinism and other nationalities such as the Tajik , Hazara and Uzbeks is very acute. Despite their advance in some areas, they have not been able to seize power countrywide or in major cities. For instance, they recently grabbed parts of the northern city of Kanduz for the second time, but had to quickly retreat.

Yet the US and its coalition may have reached the conclusion that they will not be able to defeat the Taliban. The US could not put an end to the ambitions of the Taliban and their backers when it had more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, and now the Taliban are again making military advances. US frustration was clear from a comment by a "senior administration official on the condition of anonymity". He refers to Afghan forces, but could well also mean the US forces who are leading them:

"It does not appear that the Afghan forces in the near future will be able to defeat the Taliban… Nor is it clear that the Taliban will make any significant strategic gains or be able to take and hold on to strategic terrain. It is a very ugly, very costly stalemate." (New York Times, 17 September 2016)

This prospect, however, will not stop the US from seeking to preserve its interests by other means. Its solution is to include the Taliban in a power-sharing deal. That would consequently increase the influence of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Afghanistan. As Obama put it in explaining US efforts to draw the Taliban to the negotiating table, "The only way to end this conflict and to achieve a full draw-down of foreign forces from Afghanistan is through a lasting political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban. That's the only way. And that is why the United States will continue to strongly support an Afghan-led reconciliation process."

So all the talk about liberating women and peace and prosperity has evaporated into thin air. The promises about democracy have produced nothing but a puppet, corrupt regime. Instead of eliminating fundamentalist terrorism, the war has ended up being a war to force the Taliban to the negotiating table.

The US and its appointed regime are trying to achieve that, but it seems it has not been working so far. In order to convince the Taliban to negotiate, the US also has to convince Pakistan, now deeply involved in contention with India over regional influence, and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in their contention with Iran. Other countries are also involved.

The solution of the imperialists is continued occupation, at least given the present world situation. Considering this situation, the particular limitations of the imperialists and the present balance of forces, they don't really have other options. From the US point of view, no increase or decrease of forces, and no amount of support or further training by US advisers for the so-called Afghan national army, can solve this problem.

As for their opponents, the Islamic fundamentalist forces such as the Taliban, Daesh and Al-Qaeda who are opposing the present Afghan regime, despite their conflicts based on mutual religious and national differences, they are all oppressors, too, and like the regime are aligned with reactionary regimes abroad. To say the least, they are also part of the problem and can never be part of the solution.

The forces on both sides of the conflict are trying to hang on until they find an opportunity. The US and Taliban or Pakistan or any other player in the conflict may not prefer the present situation, but they can also take advantage of it and help continue the war in Afghanistan, even if at a lower intensity. Pakistan can prevent the proposed peace agreements and keep Afghanistan unstable, and the US also has a “good” excuse both at home and internationally to continue its occupation at a more sustainable cost, at least until a more settled situation in the world is achieved, which might not be any time soon.

The people of Afghanistan, whose interests should be paramount in this complex situation, are not considered important by the reactionaries. A revolutionary force that can rely on the people and has a clear and unambiguous position against both the imperialist occupiers and the reactionary fundamentalist forces could resolve the problem in the interests of the masses. What is needed is a revolutionary party whose goal is to end all exploitation and oppression and lead the masses to liberate themselves from the mess that the imperialists and the reactionary fundamentalists and their backers have created in Afghanistan – and around the world.
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Torture protest at Aero, book and plant sales, tree contest, and other upcoming events

Local friends of the library book sales:

The three-day Chatham County book sale was last week ( ), but the Lee County Library has theirs September 22-24 in Sanford (the first day is for Friends of the Library members; see ).  The Friends of the Durham Library sale is October 7-9th at the Main Library ( ).

NC AFL-CIO Convention: 

The 59th annual NC AFL-CIO State Convention is being held September 22-23 at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown ( ). 

[Community-Supported Hemp for Solar Energy:

This is the write up from Recyclique ( ) :  "This Fri. Sept. 23, 6:30 pm come learn about prospects for Community-Supported Hemp for Solar Energy!  by Paul Tedesco.  New research shows that low-cost waste from hemp farms can be converted into a material that outperforms graphene as a nano-conductor used for solar panels, batteries and other electronics. And the timing is right: North Carolina’s new hemp commission is finally funded to design the rules for agricultural hemp in our state [amazingly, while marijuana is still illegal in conservative NC, the related industrial hemp plant, used to make textiles and numerous other products, was legalized in the last year or two]. Paul will draw on internet visuals to explain the new developments and make the case for hemp farming for solar as the future of community-supported energy.  At Recyclique, 2811 Hillsborough Rd., Durham 27705.  Suggested donations of $5, no one turned away.  Park in rear or next door in the Food Lion lot."   

Fall plant sales:

The NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill is holding a native plant sale and festival September 23-24th.  Over 100 native species, sustainable propagated at the Botanical Garden, will be on offer.  The event Friday, with live music and refreshments, is from 5-7:30pm, and is for members only (it is possible to join on the spot or online at and members get a 10% discount on plants and other benefits throughout the year) while the Saturday event from 9am-12 is public. 

The NC Native Plant Society will table on Saturday, and they will be at the Durham Monarch Festival and have a demonstration native plant garden at the State Fair, October 14-23rd. 

The Botanical Garden has many events throughout the year, such as the annual Jenny Elder Fitch Lecture on Sunday, November 6th, this year delivered by landscape architect Thomas Rainer and titled "Planting Design in a Post-Wild World."  It will be 2-4pm at the Botanical Garden and is free, but it is necessary to pre-register.         

Duke Gardens' Fall Plant Sale is open to all and has free parking (as does the NCBG), September 24th from 8am-12.  Members get a 10% discount and it is possible to join on the 24th.  Bring any used pots you want to recycle and the staff and Durham Master Gardeners will be at hand to answer questions.  For more information, see: .

NCSU's JC Raulston Arboretum gives away plants to members of their friends organization on October 1st starting at 9am (but come at least 15 minutes early to register).]     


The Durham County Library's first annual MACFest:  Multicultural Arts and Crafts Festival will be Sunday, September 24th 2-6:30pm at the Durham Central Park (in case of rain, it will be at the Main Library).  See: .

Carrboro Music Festival:

The annual Carrboro Music Festival will be held at locations throughout Carrboro, September 24-25th; see for more information. 

[UNC forum on Islamophobia:

UNC's Parr Center for Ethics and co-sponsors are hosting a discussion of Islamophobia Tuesday, September 27th at 6pm in Hyde Hall's University Room (Hyde Hall is across from the post office on Franklin Street and at the end of a row of buildings).  The panelists from various departments are Juliane Hammer (Religious Studies), Charles Kurzman (Sociology), Timothy Marr (American Studies), Melody Moezzi (author and attorney), and Joseph Kennedy (Law School).  For more information see: . 

The Parr Center is also marking First Amendment Day earlier on the 27th.]

Big Sweep:

NC Big Sweep is an annual campaign for volunteers throughout the state to cleanup trash along waterways, and events are planned throughout the day October 1st in Durham (but cleanups held anytime in September and October count).  See . 

Durham's Finest Trees Contest:

The Durham City/County Sustainability Office (Greener Durham) is holding the Durham's Finest Trees contest again this year.  Trees can win for exceptional size, historical significance, or other exceptional qualities, and several winners will be announced at the Arbor Day festival in March.  Nominations are due by October 1st, by mail or email (the form is online at ). 

I just noticed that there is an article about one of the winners from last year, a very large white ash on parkland in southern Durham.  The tree survived many years of natural dangers and the construction of the Parkwood community around it, but now it is endangered by the non-native emerald ash borer, which is already in Durham, Orange, and Wake counties, and may have begun to enter the south end of Durham this summer.   

Parkwood Fall Flea Market:

There is a large flea market twice a year in front of the old Parkwood Shopping Center/ Jamaat Ibad Ar-Rahman mosque at the corner of Revere and Seaton roads in southern Durham and the fall sale will be October 1st, 8am-12pm (rain date October 8th).  The items sold are typically what you might find in yard sales, but sometimes non-profits have tables.  For more information, see: .

The South Durham Farmers Market is held nearby at the corner of NC 55 and Sedwick Road ever Saturday morning.


Chapel Hill's annual Festifall street fair will be Sunday, October 2nd 12-6pm along West Franklin Street.  In past years Stop Torture Now had a table and while you're in the area, there is a large ash at the corner of Franklin and Columbia in the center of Chapel Hill, and some other large ones at that end of the UNC Campus (a smaller one sporting a few mistletoes was cut earlier this year, but maybe UNC will do something to protect the others from the ash borer). 

Durham Monarch Festival:

Durham's 2nd annual Monarch Festival will be Saturday, October 8th, 10am-4pm at Sandy Creek Park.  Monarchs have probably been around all summer, but they seem to be most abundant when tickseed flowers turn fields and powerline corridors gleaming yellow, which should happen once this rainy weather ends.  For details see  and there are several other upcoming events from Keep Durham Beautiful, such as rain garden planting at the George Watts Montessori School and a trash cleanup at the Geer Cemetery.   

[Pittsboro pollinator garden tour:

Wednesday, October 12th at 5pm and Saturday, October 15th at 2pm there will be tours of Chatham County Cooperative Extension's Pollinator Paradise Demonstration Garden at Chatham Mills in Pittsboro (480 Hillsboro Street).  The tours will be led by Agriculture Extension Agent Debbie Roos, who created the Garden, growing over 180 plant species, 85% native to North Carolina.  Participants should meet on the front lawn of the Chatham Marketplace.  For more information about the site, see: .

Friends of Plant Conservation Annual Fall Gathering:

The group will meet at the NC Botanical Garden October 21st, 3-8pm, and on the 22nd there will be a field trip to some sites in Durham where igneous rocks have weathered to produce unusually alkaline soil, supporting many rare or endangered plants.  I'm not sure if the meeting is always held at the Botanical Garden.  To join, see: .] 

Stop Torture Now's last trash cleanup outside "torture taxi" airline:

For four years NC Stop Torture Now has picked up trash quarterly along Swift Creek Road, in front of Aero Contractors' hangar in Johnston County, but that is coming to an end.  There was a cleanup September 17th and the last will be Saturday, November 19th, starting with a 10am press conference at the Johnston County Airport followed by about an hour of cleaning.  People are also needed to hold signs near the hangar and a public dump site with a lot of visibility.  People who are going to pick up trash will need to see the DOT safety information and video at:  . 

National Events


Important dates for registration, early voting, etc. for Durham County are online at: .  The voter ID law has been overturned, so an ID is not required to vote and there have been other changes, though early voting rules in various counties are still being contested.  Election Day is Tuesday, November 8th, from 6:30am to 7:30pm, and judging by the lines in the primary election and the heat in the presidential contest, thee lines will be long.  For statewide information, see: .

It will be possible to vote for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and have your vote counted, I think as a write-in candidate (more details later), though punitive electoral policies prevent the NC Green Party from appearing on the ballot.  I hope to write about some candidates later in the fall.   

SOA Watch Encuentro at the Border:

School of the Americas Watch, originally started to protest a program at Fort Benning, Georgia that trains soldiers from Latin America, who often go on to stage anti-democratic coups and violate human rights in their home countries, is holding a bi-national demonstration at the border, in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, October 7-10th.  The demonstration will condemn the US interventions south of the border that force people to migrate and racism, xenophobia, and militarization in the US and internationally.  See their website at:  .

From a Chapel Hill activist calendar:

Some Triangle Peace and Justice Events September 21 to October 6, 2016
 (Events listed in chronological order except for recurring events posted at end)

SCARRED LANDS & WOUNDED LIVES "Powerful documentary on the ecological consequences of warfare...which traces how military forces have intentionally destroyed ecosystems as a means to win battles." 6:15 p.m., Wednesday, September 21, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Finlator Hall , 1801 Hillsborough St., Raleigh. Part of Campaign Nonviolence NC Week in Raleigh ( actions-raleigh-areanc-peace- week/).
NC PEACE ACTION PEACEMAKER AWARD DINNER  Honoring Lynn and Steve Newsom, directors of Quaker House in Fayetteville. Tickets: $30.  Reservations: or 919-787-2254). 6:30 p.m., Friday, September 23, Highland United Methodist Church, 1901 Ridge Road, Raleigh. Part of Campaign Nonviolence NC Week in Raleigh ( actions-raleigh-areanc-peace- week/).
CAMPAIGN NONVIOLENCE NC FESTIVAL Workshops and peace & justice exhibitors. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, September 24, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, Clara Barton Room, 3313 Wade Avenue, Raleigh. Part of Campaign Nonviolence NC Week in Raleigh ( ctions-raleigh-areanc-peace-we ek/). Flier posted in Commons.
VOLUNTEER DRIVERS NEEDED FOR FARMWORKERS    Dave Austin, Eno River UU Fellowship, requests drivers for two farmworkers’ events: 1-6 p. m., Sunday, September 25, FLOC Piedmont Regional Membership Meeting; and 6 a. m., and/or 8 p.m., Wednesday. September 28, Mediation Session in court, Raleigh. Speaking Spanish not necessary. Drivers take workers from labor camp to session and same or another driver takes workers back to home labor camp. Details: Justin Flores (jflores at floc dot com)., 919-433-6718.

A CONVERSATION WITH DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE Public presentation featuring James R. Clapper, who has served as Director of National Intelligence since August 9, 2010, leads the Intelligence Community, serving as the principal intelligence advisor to the President. 6 – 7 p.m., Tuesday, September 27, UNC’s McColl Building, Koury Auditorium, Kenan Flagler Business School, Skipper Bowles Drive; parking in Kenan-Flagler Parking Deck. Details:  [ ].  Sponsored by Triangle Institute for Security Studies. 919-619-0547.

POISONOUS POLITICS: FAITH, FEAR AND DEMOCRACY Join community leaders for discussion about racism and rise of Islamophobia in US and elsewhere. Panelists include Shafeah M'Balia, Black Workers for Justice and Muslims for Social Justice; Imam AbuTaleb, Islamic Association of Raleigh; Gene Nichol, UNC Law School. on-islamophobia-in-politics/. Small-group discussion following. 7-8:30 p.m., Thursday, October 6, McKimmon Center, 1101 Gorman Street, Raleigh. Contact:  Rev. Nancy Petty, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. 919-828-0897.

ONGOING VIGILS FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE: Raleigh: Stop the Arms Race and Build a Culture of Peace Vigil, 1st Wednesday of every month, Noon to 1 PM, Century Post Office on Fayetteville St (919-782-0667); Raleigh: End the death penalty (PFADP, AI-USA, NC-ACLU), 5 - 6 PM, Mondays, Central Prison, corner of Hunt Dr and Western Blvd (919-779-1912); Chapel Hill: 5-6 PM EDT [4:30 - 5:30 PM EST], Fridays, corner of Elliott Rd and East Franklin St; bring your sign(s) to show your concern or take one from collection (919-942-2535). 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Stand in Solidarity with Standing Rock vigil Tuesday

There will be a vigil Tuesday, September 13th, 5:30-7:30 at the corner of Wade Avenue and Dixie Trail (814 Dixie Trail) in Raleigh in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and others fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline.  The vigil was organized by 350 Triangle; see for more information and there is a petition at .  September 13th is a national day of action against the pipeline.  The social media tag is #NoDAPL.  The Raging Grannies organized a solidarity vigil last Friday in Carrboro. 

Friday, August 05, 2016

Hiroshima Day Candlelight Vigil

This Saturday, August 6th, is the 71st anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and there will be a candlelight vigil at Chapel Hill's Peace & Justice Plaza (in front of the old Post Office at 179 East Franklin Street, across from UNC), 8-9pm.  There will be some speeches and music, but it will mostly be a silent vigil with candles and signs (some will be provided, or bring one).  The vigil is sponsored by Eisenhower Chapter 157 of Veterans for Peace ( .  The organizers recommend parking in the deck at 100 East Rosemary, but most of the parking nearby at UNC should be free on a weekend.

The flyer condemns the Obama Administration's plans to upgrade the US nuclear arsenal (I think I've heard that it would cost $1 trillion dollars, for weapons that could cause human extinction and a mass extinction of other species, and would kill huge numbers of people, and probably not just in the targeted countries, if they are used again) and calls for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.  There is a petition signed by more than 5 million people at .   

It is too often left unmentioned that a second atomic bomb with a different design was used on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, and much more powerful nuclear weapons are common today.  The USSR joined the war against Japan at about the same time and Japan surrendered a few days later.      

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Turkish Labor Party on the coup crisis and two new publications

Here is a new statement from the Labor Party of Turkey (Emek Partisi, EMEP, and related to the underground Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey, the TDKP), a member of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO), about last week's military coup attempt, first published July 21st.  It is also online at:  EMEP chairwoman Selma Gurkan released a short statement opposing both the coup and Turkey's Islamist president Erdogan, calling for "the safeguarding of democratic rights and political freedoms" on July 17th.    
Neither the coup nor the one-man dictatorship!
Attempted coup:  A counter-revolution within the counter-revolution!
On the night on 15 July, Turkey witnessed a take-over of some critical points in two major cities by soldiers. The plotters took over the headquarters of the Turkish Armed Forces General Staff and the Gendarmerie General Command, an air base and Istanbul Atatürk Airport. The Chief Commanders of the armed forces were detained. Fighter Jets were flying low over cities and later, joined by helicopters, bombed certain targets including TBMM (Turkish Parliament Building), the vicinity of the headquarters of the General Staff and Special Forces Command.
Without enough preparation and power, the plotters, perhaps forced to act by the circumstances and possibly abandoned by sections of the armed forces that pledged support, arrived at a dead end within a matter of hours.
Firstly, they could not win over the people and its organised section. The coup was supported no one; no organised body such as a political party or a trade union. The four political parties in the Parliament issued a joint statement against the attempted coup.
On the other hand, the plotters could not get the main troops within the Armed Forces on their side. They were confronted by the police and the Special Forces, controlled directly by the government and numbered in their hundreds of thousands. Political Islamist militants, with jihadists among them, showed their level of organisation in confronting them hand in hand with the police. They responded to the calls to “take to the streets” by the President, whom the plotters failed to capture. Increasing numbers of AKP supporters and people from those sections of the population that insisted on democracy also filled the streets in defiance of the coup.
In a country that has seen almost ten coups, the only successful ones of which were those backed by the US; the plotters could not secure the support of the US, despite the latter’s ambiguous initial stance.
And they were unsuccessful.
However, it cannot be disputed that the line of domestic and foreign policy pursued by the incumbent AKP government and President Erdoğan – who is creating a de facto “one-manship” – dragged Turkey to this circumstance of a coup.
In fact, during the 2010 Constitutional Referendum, the primary claim of the AKP and Erdoğan was that they were “settling the score with the Constitution of the coup” of 1980 and that “there will be no more coups in Turkey”! This has not happened; not only did “settling the score with the constitution of the coup” never took place, on the contrary, all measures taken since have been taken in order to destroy the already weak institutions and freedoms of the country. The claim to “demolish the coup law” was a veil for building a “one-man, one-party dictatorship, removing what’s left from “the rule of law”.
Soon after his election as the president, Erdoğan claimed “a de facto regime change” and stated that the parliamentarian system is “put on hold”. The legislation has been subordinated to executive power. With the aggrandisement of “National Will”; despite the focus only on the “ballot” rather than democratic rights and freedoms; and finally the removal of the immunity of MPs; this has been advanced to a point of getting rid of unwanted parliamentarians. To prove that “National Will” means the “decision of one-man”, people’s “will” demonstrated in the elections held on 7 June 2015 saying “No” to “one-man dictatorship” have been rejected. Through instigation of the Kurdish war – fuelling chauvinist nationalism – the country was dragged into war and chaos and forced into elections on the 1st of November.
Freedom of the press has been almost entirely removed. Freedom of speech, and especially freedom of thought, the right to hold meetings and organise demonstrations have been made impossible. Especially Mayday demonstrations and even the right of the main opposition party members to hold meetings has been denied. Academics who signed a peace petition calling on the government to halt its military operations in Kurdish region have been sacked and imprisoned. Moreover,  it was recently announced that elected administrations of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) municipalities would be discharged and replaced by arbitrary appointments.
Executive power was strengthened by the “Internal Security Act”, giving exceptional powers to the police and district and provincial governors. In the war waged in Kurdish cities, armed forces are protected by granting of immunity; soldiers cannot be put on trial without the Prime Minister’s consent. This course is domestically carried out by renewed alliance with the Ergenekon soldiers, who were erstwhile arrested for plotting against the government, in the name of “fighting terror” instead of the “peace process”. War policies like surrounding of cities by tanks and cannons, killing thousands of people, removing democratic rights and freedoms have forced the country to a situation where it cannot be governed under ordinary circumstances. Above all, increasing use of the arms allowed soldiers to increase their influence on the governance of the country. This made the country more prone to coup attempts.
The judiciary has been subordinated to executive power: through “special courts”; alleged “coup plotters” with differing identities; through the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, made up mostly of appointed members. A third of the judges and prosecutors have been relocated. Before the coup attempt it was stated that except for the Presidents of the Court of Cassation and the Council of State, all members of both institutions would be appointed by the executive power.  The failed coup was followed by the dismissalls and detentions of  2745 judges and prosecutors, including two members of the Supreme Court, 140 members of the Constitutional Court and 48 members of the Council of State.
The same course has been advanced in foreign policy pursuing politics of war within the scope of New-Ottoman expansionism. The impracticability of it after the Russian intervention in Syria and the disharmony with US foreign policy caused displeasure and pursuit of alternatives among the dominant forces. AKP government’s “red lines” on Syria relating to Kurdish issue and the future of Bashar Assad regime lost all meaning and forced a policy change.. It adopted a political line of normalising relations with Israel and Russia. However, the collapse of foreign policy targets –focused on politics of war- led to a conflict among the ruling cliques and provoked military pursuits.
Furthermore, steps taken to unite the ruling classes in the name of transition to a one-man, one-party dictatorship led to discontent and bitterness among reactionary forces. Tax penalties and exclusion from government tenders and sharing of government resources, introduced in an attempt to “convince” even traditional monopolistic capital groups, are some of these steps.
Most serious sanctions targeted the Gülen Movement, an ally of the AKP since its foundation but fallen out with after the 17-25 December corruption investigations. This Movement is not only Islamist but also a big monetary fund. With its bank and investment companies, the largest mining company in the country, widespread investment in media and education sectors, and through its alliance with AKP, this group penetrated most of the state apparatus; primarily within the police, judiciary and the Armed Forces.
Following 25 December, this group was declared a “terrorist organisation”, its bank and mining company were seized, media and education institutions were closed down; companies and members prosecuted and imprisoned. Following the clean-up in the judiciary and the police, as the appointments and promotions in the Armed Forces at the end of August approached, inquiries, arrests and court proceedings targeting members of this group had already started. This was the “last straw”; the organised forces of this group and other discontented groups in the army attempted a coup; aware of the clean-up lists, instead of being discharged and jailed, they were, in a way, forced into this attempt.
This failed coup has emerged as a showdown within the ruling class.
It was undeniable that the coup – with its first stated measures of martial law and inhibition – was going to advance the rise of reactionism in both domestic and foreign policy and hence repelling it was important. However, it is clear that the attempted coup has strengthened the hand of the one-man, one-party reactionism of the AKP. President Erdoğan called this attempt a “gift from god” and stated that it gives him a “chance to cleanse the military”. This attempt exposed the Islamist ideological make-up of the police and the existence of a militant organisation loyal to Erdoğan that played a significant role in suppressing the coup after Erdoğan called them to take to the streets. It also strengthened this organised basis of AKP within the population. Now, under the pretext of a rushed “clean-up of the plotters”, an extreme “clean-up” among the judges and prosecutors along with the police and the army has started. It is clear that this will serve the aims to create a state mechanism that follows only the orders of “one-man”. The AKP government has already started to legitimise this purge under the pretext of  fighting against the “Gulenist terrorism” and of cracking down on the plotters of the coup. It has used failed coup as a catalyser to unite the population – starting with the bourgeois opposition – around its own objectives.
Our party, EMEP, clearly opposed the coup. Our party warns everyone that the defeat of the coup alone does not necessarily mean “democracy” is the winner. It will be gained by a difficult struggle. We call on everyone to the struggle to prevent the one-man, one-party dictatorship.
Unity & Struggle #32
A new issue of Unity & Struggle, the biannual journal of the ICMLPO, is out.  It has statements from the ICMLPO as a whole and member parties.  The contents of this issue are:

On the International Situation and Our Tasks
Rules of Organization of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations
Fifty years ago Manuel Lisboa founded the PCR in Brazil
Revolutionary Communist Party – PCR
Burkina Faso
Regarding the Terrorist Attacks in the West Africa Sub-Region and its Problems
Revolutionary Communist Party of Volta – PCRV
Peace and the Road to Power
Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist) – PCC(ML)
‘United Europe’: The Growing Popular Resistance and Reformist Bail-Outs
Workers’ Communist Party of Denmark – APK
Dominican  Republic
The Main Question for the May 15 Elections in the Dominican Republic
Communist Party of Labor – PCT
The Ideological and Political Confrontation with Reformism
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador – PCMLE
“Left Front”: an evaluation of our experience
Workers’ Communist Party of France – PCOF
Solidarity with Migrant Refugees
Movement for the Reorganization of the KKE (1918-1955)
Preface to the Indian Edition of the Textbook of Political Economy (1955)
Revolutionary Democracy
The Modern Proletariat and Internationalism
Communist Platform
Merge Marxism-Leninism with the Working Class and the Popular Masses
Communist Party of Mexico (Marxist-Leninist) – PCM(ML)
Xenophobia and How the Working Class Should Respond
Position of the Peruvian Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) regarding the Elections of April 10 and June 5, 2016
Peruvian Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) – PCP(ML)
Is There a Need for a Marxist-Leninist International?
Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist) – PCE(ML)
Some Questions about Tactics
Workers’ Party of Tunisia – PTT
A Global Perspective on the Middle East
Labour Party – EMEP
It is Necessary to Face the Present Political Moment with Revolutionary Energy and Boldness
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Venezuela – PCMLV
To get a copy in the US, send $5 dollars (the cost for Canadian addresses is $10 and other countries $15) to:
George Gruenthal
192 Claremont Ave., #5D
New York, NY 10027
This Land is Their Land
George Gruenthal is also the author of a brief (130 pages) and illustrated history of the US from a working class progressive perspective, This Land is Their Land:  A Revolutionary Working People's History of the US.  The title is similar to Howard Zinn's famous A People's History of the United States, but it was actually inspired by Pablo Miranda's Mi pais, la tierra y sus gentes, about Ecuadorean history.  Gruenthal writes "I decided that it would be helpful to progressive readers in the U.S., and particularly young people, to have a similar history of the U.S.  Of course, the inevitable weakness in a work of this size that tries to deal with such a complex subject is that it is not possible to deal even with all major events." The contents are below.  To order a copy send a check made out to George Gruenthal, a money order, or cash for $4 dollars ($9 for Canada and $12 for everywhere else) to 
Red Star
P.O. Box 1641
Manhattanville Sta.
New York, NY 10027
Red Star Publishers is another good resource - their catalogue is online at .  People outside of the US can contact George to get the whole book free as a pdf file.  I'm considering talking to local bookstores about ordering copies.   
1. The Americas before Columbus
Buffy Sainte Marie: My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying
2. African Slaves
European Indentures
3. Formation of the 13 Colonies into a Single Country
4. Andrew Jackson, “Representative of the  Common People,” Indian Fighter and Slave-owner
5. Compromises and Struggles between the  Plantation South and the Capitalist North
Slave Rebellions
6. The Mexican American Wars, 1836-1848
7. Civil War
8. Reconstruction and the Development  of the Afro-American Nation
Reconstruction Governments
9. The Unification of the U.S. Capitalist State
10. 1886 and the Fight for the 8-Hour Day
Lucy Parsons
11. 1880 to 1920
Joe Hill
12. Development of Imperialism and  the Spanish-American War of 1898
Major General Smedley D. Butler
13. World War I
14. The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia  and its Influence on the United States
15. Formation of the Communist Party
16. Reformist and Revolutionary Organizations  within the Black National Movement
Claude McKay
17. The “Roaring Twenties”
18. The Great Depression
Early Workers’ Struggles
19. Workers’ Struggles During the New Deal
20. The International Situation  Leading up to World War II
21. World War II and the Role of the Major Powers
Bertold Brecht
22. The International Consequences of World War II
23. Post-World War II, McCarthyism and  the Trade Union Movement
24. The Korean War
25. The Civil Rights Movement
Malcolm X
26. The Rise of the Revolutionary  Afro-American Liberation Movement
The Black Panther Party
Gil Scott Heron: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
27. Other Revolutionary National Movements
The Chicano/Mexicano Movement
Asian-American, Native American and Other Movements
28. The Vietnam War and the Anti-War Movement
Phil Ochs: Love Me, I’m a Liberal
29. The Women’s Movement
The Movement of the 1970s
30. The LGBT Movement
31. The Rise and Decline of the  New Marxist-Leninist Movements
32. A Period of Ebbs and Flows
The International Situation
33. From the 2000 Elections to the Attacks of 9/11/2001
34. “Terrorism” and Endless Wars
Invasion of Iraq
35. Scapegoating of Muslims and the PATRIOT ACT
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui
36. May Day 2006 and the Immigrant Rights Movement
37. The Crisis of 2008 and the Decline of U.S. Imperialism
38. Inter-Imperialist Crises and Internationalism
The Class Nature of Russia and China Today
The Internationale