Thursday, February 15, 2018

AWTWNS: "Ode to the Sea" - Art from Guantanamo Prison

In light of Trump's support of the Guantánamo Bay prison and the torture carried out there, and the February 23rd day of action against this US occupation of Cuban territory ( noforeignbases.org/ ), here is an article from A World to Win New Service humanizing these prisoners, many of whom seem to be innocent. 

Also, my December 31st calendar of late winter / early spring events is still being updated. 


“Ode to the Sea” – Art from Guantanamo prison

4 February 2018. A World to Win News Service [ aworldtowinns.co.uk/ ]. This was an unusual art exhibition in many ways.

For one thing, the paintings, sculptures and installations made by Guantanamo prisoners were not on view in a gallery or museum. They were hung in a corridor in New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which unlike other art venues has neither an exorbitant admission fee nor an unspoken dress code, but does require visitors to have their ID details recorded. A policeman was posted at the show entrance. (The exhibition closed 28 January, but the visuals and texts can still be accessed  at www.artfromguantanamo.com and www.postprintmagazine.com)

For another thing, as curator Erin Thompson points out in the catalogue, “Some of the detainees’ works look like art exercises produced by students anywhere – but they were made by men shackled to the floor of the art classroom.”

Further, for the eight artists included in this show, the sea means something very different than the kind of picturesque setting some people seek out as a suitable subject for open air painting. They didn’t seek their sea-side location at all. They were brought to Guantanamo in chains, some after months and even years of torture and solitary confinement, often beaten along the way, and when they got there, threatened with drowning. And despite the fact that since then they have spent 10 to 16 years in cells only a few meters from the water’s edge, they are not allowed to see the sea.

Their view of the bay is deliberately obstructed by fences covered with canvas. A prisoner quoted in the show texts says that when holes appeared and men tried to see through them, they saw more rows of covered fences. Only once, for a few days when a hurricane approached, were the tarps removed.  For the most part, curator Thompson writes, these prisoners paint not what they see but what they wish they could see.

Thompson discusses why the sea – its waters and shores, sometimes soothing and sometimes devouring, and boats, sometimes nostalgic and sometimes terrifyingly empty – is such a major theme here, although not the only one. Seldom are there people in these works. We see hands and eyes, but rarely are full faces depicted.

One reason, of course, is that human portraits take more skill and imperfections ruin them.  All the more because these prisoners most often work with brushes or their hands, not allowed to use pencils, palette knives or any other hard object. Thompson mentions that Islamic thought – all of these men are from Moslem-majority countries – often forbids human representation. She also says that many of the prisoners, particularly from Afghanistan, have never seen an ocean, and wanted to be shown what one looks like.

But the most striking reasons, she concludes, have to do with the conditions of their confinement. The U.S. military scrutinizes and scans every piece of paper leaving Guantanamo, supposedly to check for hidden messages. Any artwork considered to have political or ideological content is not allowed out. That means it’s forbidden to depict suffering. Prisoners understand that their artwork will be examined to determine their state of mind. Any display of anger – or any emotional expression the authorities deem a sign of a dangerous disposition – will be held against them. The majority of the 41 men remaining in Guantanamo have never been charged, and five have been “cleared for release” but remain imprisoned, so that any hope that they will not die there depends on the pleasure of the authorities.

No matter where any of these men may stand in relation to jihadi groups or Islamic fundamentalism in general, trends contending with Western imperialist domination with the goal of establishing extremely oppressive states and societies, that is not an apparent issue in any of the 36 pieces in this show. The underlying theme is how the criminal treatment inflicted on these prisoners has shaped how they see the world. For them the sea is a safe subject – and can serve as a screen on which their feelings, however deliberately muted, can be projected. Some of the pieces in this show are moving even if you didn’t know much about the context in which they were produced. A few are memorable.

One is by Ammar Al-Baluchi, a Kuwait-born Pakistani citizen held and tortured by the CIA for three and a half years before being brought to Guantanamo, where he is still being tortured, according to the UN Human Rights Office (Independent, 14 December 2017). His Vertigo at Guantanamo is an abstract drawing meant to show the sensations that have afflicted him since suffering brain damage during “enhanced interrogation”.

Ahmed Rabbani’s non-representational work is also powerfully evocative. A taxi driver from Karachi, he says, he has spent almost 13 years in Guantanamo after being detained and tortured by the CIA. He has gone on several hunger strikes to proclaim his innocence, and endured force-feeding through tubes inserted in a way meant to be very painful. He describes his Untitled (Binoculars Pointed at the Moon) as a response to his “infatuation” with the November 2016 “strange event where the moon was at its closest point to the earth since 70 years ago.”  The catalogue adds, “The countless unseeing eyes at the end of binoculars seem to represent the authorities who have scrutinized every aspect of Rabbani’s life without, as he claims, understanding it at all.”

The show also includes more conventional but still effective work. Ghaleb Al-Binhani’s lighthouse has gone dark. Djamel Ameziane, a refugee from Algeria, made the watercolour Untitled (Shipwrecked Boat) after being held for five additional years, even though “cleared for release”, before being sent back to the country he had fled. He told his lawyers that at the time he felt like the empty, battered, storm-driven ship it depicts. Muhammad Ansi, the artist most represented in this show, also paints the sea as an all-consuming monster in Untitled (Storm at Sea). In Untitled (Alan Kurdi), after the famous photos of the drowned Syrian refugee child lying on a beach, the seething sea is not so much a force of nature as the tormented world where he and Alan and all of us live.

One last reason why this show was unique: Obama’s policy toward Guantanamo (and torture) was carefully ambiguous, as if it were an embarrassment and it would be best if the public didn’t think about it. Trump, the banner of Moslems and an extremely loud advocate of torture, has promised to “load it up” – making it emblematic of the way he intends to run the country and the world. Maybe that’s what this powerful exhibition was meant to warn about.

The show so enraged the U.S. military that it announced that from now on all art produced in its Caribbean hellhole would be considered government property. None of the art that has escaped can be sold, and no more will be allowed out. Journalists have been told that the U.S. government intends to burn it all. A few days after the exhibition closed, Trump announced the prison will be kept open for new arrivals

-end item-

Friday, January 19, 2018

AWTWNS: Peru: a criminal pardon for murder-in-chief ex President Fujimori

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Peru: a criminal pardon for murder-in-chief ex President Fujimori
Full text of the statement of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) on the Underclass Uprising in Iran [see AWTW's website]

 * * *

Free Gonzalo and all political prisoners!
Peru: a criminal pardon for murder-in-chief Fujimori

8 January 2018. A World to Win News Service. Ex-Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori has been pardoned after serving a decade of a 25-year sentence for corruption and murder – the massacres he personally ordered in a terror campaign against a revolutionary war aimed at liberating Peru from oppression. This decision produced widespread indignation and angry street protests. It not only brought more widespread hate on an already discredited government, but extended that discredit to the country's so-called rule of law. What throws an even sharper light on the criminal injustice of this pardon is that Abimael Guzman (also known as Chairman Gonzalo), the head of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) who led that revolution, remains buried alive in a solitary cell after 25 years, condemned to die there even though a life sentence is not considered legal in Peru. The country continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, some still incarcerated even after having served their sentences.

This is a clear example of class justice, a system where what is deemed beneficial to the ruling class is considered just and the bloodiest crimes can be forgiven if they serve that rule, while revolt against that system can never be forgiven.

Fujimori was released by Peru's current president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, in a deal in which Fujimori supporters, in exchange, saved Kuczynski from impeachment for corruption. This is a standard situation in a country where all of the heads of government over the last 37 years have been formally charged with accepting bribes and bribing each other, with several others imprisoned or in exile. Corruption is the normal mode of functioning of the Peruvian state, on every level.. These revolving jail house doors have nothing to do with any change in the system and everything to do with constant infighting among the rulers and their political representatives.

As for the massacres for which Fujimori was convicted, they are far from the only ones for which he, other presidents and the state they headed are responsible. When the Communist Party of Peru began to mobilize poor peasants and others in a revolt against the system that started in 1980 and grew into a people's war supported by millions of people, the police and armed forces responded with one mass murder after another, indiscriminately killing fighters and ordinary people alike. State terrorists rounded up and killed several tens of thousands. Some have been found in clandestine mass graves. Others disappeared to this day. Hundreds of revolutionary prisoners who took part in a 1986 uprising in three prisons were killed, many executed in cold blood after they surrendered. Barrios Altos and La Cantuta are two crimes Fujimori was found guilty of directing personally, by courts that also ruled that the victims were not guilty of anything even by the standards of the reactionary Peruvian justice system.

In the Lima working class neighbourhood of Barrios Altos in 1991, a half-dozen intelligence officers burst into a backyard barbecue, forced everyone to lie down and emptied their silencer-equipped automatic weapons into them, killing 15 people, including an 8-year-old year old boy, and seriously wounding four others. The victims were said to be rebel sympathizers. Afterwards Fujimori attended a celebration with the murderers at the headquarters of his intelligence service.

La Cantuta University is a teachers' training school, many of whose students come from poor areas. The authorities had long feared its defiant students and repeatedly sent in security forces to attack them. In 1992 members of the same death squad dragged nine students from the dormitories and a professor from the teacher's quarters, executed them and then secretly buried their corpses.

In 2000, after the people's war died down and the ruling class (and the U.S. it depends on) that had supported Fujimori for a decade decided to get rid of him, the media suddenly "discovered" his corruption and he was forced to flee the country. Later, when he attempted a come-back, he ended up being convicted of directing the two massacres.

But Fujimori's atrocities were not what led to his downfall – as evidenced by the willingness to forgive him for them today.. Two years after his election in 1990, in what was called a "self-coup", he sent tanks to close down congress and used the army to settle the infighting among Peru's ruling class that impeded efforts to put down the rebellion. The barbarous acts against the people for which he was later convicted were well-known at the time but widely accepted or passed over at the top of society and by the US imperialists. Those running Peru later discarded him both because their own bitter rivalries continued and in an attempt to restore the legitimacy of a state that had openly soaked its hands in blood.

The PCP leader was captured in 1992 and given a life sentence in a brief, secret trial conducted by hooded military officers. While isolated in a military-controlled island prison, Gonzalo called for the people's war to be ended through a negotiated settlement. Even though this call was condemned by most of the party outside prisons, which refused to accept that the call had come from Gonzalo himself, and even though Fujimori rejected it, nevertheless this was a major factor in the decline of the people's war. Gonzalo’s capture and the subsequent defeat of the people's war was considered Fujimori's greatest achievement. Later, when Fujimori fell into disgrace, Gonzalo was retried and his sentenced reaffirmed by a civilian court under Fujimori's successor, who himself ended up fleeing the country to avoid prison.

Guzman is 83 and ill, according to a recent statement by his lawyer, who argued that if Fujimori can go free, supposedly for medical reasons, there is no legal reason why his client should remain incarcerated. Other alleged PCP leaders sentenced to 25 year terms alongside Gonzalo are facing new trials for wartime events occurring decades ago to ensure that they never leave prison.

Fujimori's political heirs and rivals may forgive him, but millions of Peruvians feel otherwise. Even a half-dozen cabinet members and other government officials felt compelled to resign to avoid sharing President Kuczynski's discredit.

On Christmas Eve, when Fujimori's pardon was announced, thousands of people flooded the narrow streets of central Lima near the presidential palace. The police demonstrated the essence of the Peruvian state by criminalizing their protest, surrounding them and then forcing them to disperse. Another large demonstration took place two days later. Again on 4 January, on the eve of Fujimori's release, angry protesters tried to march on the current president's home, only to be met with volleys of tear gas and massed security forces. Many carried portraits of Fujimori's victims or banners inscribed with their names. The marchers included parents and other relatives of those murdered under Fujimori's mandate, and youth unable to accept the new injustice represented by his pardon, which amounts to an official statement that his crimes against the people are not crimes in the eyes of the law and the system.

 - end item-

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Some late winter - spring events and anniversaries

More events will be added during January [and February] and events may be listed without full endorsement. 

Anti-environmental actions by the NC DOT

I was planning to write more about endangered dwarf wedgemussels and other local environmental and water quality related issues over the next year or two, but public hearings and comments on the Southeast Extension of the Triangle Expressway, to complete 540, have come up already.  The DOT and Federal Highway Administration are probably planning to use a route that would impact dwarf wedgemussels living in Swift Creek and possibly other endangered or threatened species (the website mentions Northern long-eared bats and Michaux's sumac), rather than the originally planned route that might have had less of an environmental impact, but has been impinged upon by a town's waterworks, etc., presumably knowing that a proposed freeway the town government supports was slated for the area.  In researching the issue I heard stories about Governor Jim Hunt's actions against dwarf wedgemussels during the 90's, and these freshwater mussels live in several states, so this is a larger story than just what is happening in Wake County.  If I remember correctly, dwarf wedgemussels might live in the Eno River in Orange and Durham counties. 

There will be public meetings February 20th 6 - 8pm at the Holly Springs High School Cafeteria (5329 Cass Holt Road, Holly Springs), February 21 6 - 8pm at the Barwell Road Community Center (5857 Barwell Park Drive, Raleigh), and February 22 4 - 6:30pm (hearing at 7pm) at the Southern Wake Campus of Wake Technical Community College (9101 Fayetteville Road, Raleigh), and the presentation will be streamed live.  Documents will be available for review at several locations and online at:  www.ncdot.gov/projects/complete540/  To receive Spanish or other interpretive services, call 1 800 481 6494 and contact Jamille Robbins for ADA services.

For more information or to comment (by March 23rd) contact:  Jamille Robbins at 1598 Mail Services Center, Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-1598; call 1 800 554 7849; go to ncdot.publicinput.com/complete_540 ; or email complete540 at ncdot period gov  

Petition to drop charges against anti-base protesters in Okinawa

The Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases is circulating a petition (see noforeignbases.org/ ) demanding that the Japanese government drop charges against Hiroji Yamashiro, Hiroshi Inaba, and Atsuhiro Soeda.  Okinawa is often treated as a colony by the Japanese government, and much of the US military presence in Japan is based in Okinawa, leading to social and environmental problems.  I think Secretary of State Clinton's refusal to negotiate about the bases contributed to the collapse of the Democratic Party of Japan government a few years ago, allowing the Liberal Democratic Party to return to power and put Japan on a more aggressive course. 

Don't fund Israeli military mistreatment of Palestinian children

The Carolina Peace Center is asking people to contact their Congressional representative urging support for HR 4391 Promote Human Rights for Palestinian Children ( www.facebook.com/CarolinaPeaceCenter/ ).  Israel routinely arrests and prosecutes Palestinian children, and the announcement says that HRW and others have documented that some are tortured, beaten, and coercively interrogated, etc. while UNICEF found that children are being held for long periods without access to their parents or lawyers.  To find your member of Congress:  callyourrep.co/ Youth activist Ahed Tamimi turned 17 in an Israeli prison January 31st. 

Free foreign language classes

The Carolina Asia Center is offering free classes open to the public in Bahasa Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Thai at the FedEx Global Education Center March 19, March 26, April 9, and April 9, 6-7:30pm each day.  There will be refreshments.  Register at:  carolinaasiacenter.unc.edu/workshops/ 

There are free Chinese lessons every Friday afternoon at UNC's Student Union, but I will have to look up the details.  The time might be 4:30 - 5:30, or maybe it was a little earlier. 

There are local conversations groups in Japanese, French, and probably other languages on meetup.com
 
More than one story / Mas de una historia: 25 years of farmworker voices from SAF
 
UNC's Davis Library is exhibiting photos from the Student Action with Farmworkers archive in Wilson Library until February 2018. They are displayed in the Davis Library Gallery on the first floor [the east end of the ground floor, around a lounge opposite the main entrance]. For more information see: library.unc.edu/2017/08/more-than-one-story-mas-de-una-historia/ or www.saf-unite.org/http%3A//saf-unite.org/content/saf-2017-exhibits-events

Organic Revolution:  A 9-day Trip to Cuba

The Organic Growers School, Food First, and Altruvistas are organizing a tour March 26-April 3rd to look at organic, sustainable, and agroecological practices in Cuban agriculture and food distribution.  Tickets have to be paid for by March 1st.  For more information see:  organicgrowersschool.org/events/travel-to-cuba/ 

Fulgencio Batista was overthrown in Cuba January 1, 1959.

Pollinators of NC talk

There is usually a guest speaker at the New Hope Audubon Society's monthly meetings, and this month Chris Liloia of the NC Botanical Garden will talk about gardening with native plants for pollinators.  The meetings are 7-9pm the first Thursday of the month at the NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill and are free and open to the public.  The February 1st meeting will be about the sea turtles found along the NC coast.  For more information see:  www.newhopeaudubonsociety.org 

SEEDS NC New Year Plant Sale
 
SEEDS (706 Gilbert Street, Durham) is selling various herb plants and people can get a free seed packet January 6th, 9am-2pm. For more information see: www.seedsnc.org/2017/12/new-year-plant-sale/
 
Twitter Power Academy

The NC AFL-CIO and Social Movement Technologies will host seven classes on how to use Twitter "to shape news coverage, recruit influential allies to our community, and hold elected officials accountable." There will be a free introductory meeting on the past and future use of Twitter in organizing, Wednesday, January 10th 11-11:30am. It is open to organizers who are curious or want to participate in the entire course. To register, see: aflcionc.org/calendar/

Fair Courts Day of Action

There will be a day of action January 10th, 11am-5pm, against the proposal to end judicial elections.  This is organized by the NC NAACP, NCVCE, Democracy NC, and Progress NC.  There will be a press conference at Bicentennial Plaza (1 East Edenton Street, Raleigh); for more information see:  www.facebook.com/events/1815507185187612/

Fairness and Accuracy in Journalism meeting

The monthly meeting will be Thursday, January 11th at 7:30pm at the Community Church, UU (106 Purefoy Road, Chapel Hill), and will be a discussion of news sources and activism for better news coverage.  There will be copies of WCOM's Alternative Radio program (broadcast every Tuesday at 9am) featuring a talk by Duke's Nancy MacLean in Wisconsin on her book Democracy in Chains, discussing links between American economists, Chile under Pinochet, and rightist public policy in the US. 
 
Medicare for All Rally!
 
The Coalition for Health Care of North Carolina is organizing a rally for a better and inclusive health care system January 12th [actually the date is January 13th] 12-1:30pm at Durham's CCB Plaza (201 North Corcoran Street).  Speakers include Rev Jennifer Copeland, Dr Aparna Jonnal, Rebecca Cerese, Rev Dr Carl Kenny II, Poet Darrell Stover, and the Reging Grannies.  There will be free parking at the Corcoran and Chapel Hill Street City lots.  For more information, or to co-sponsor, see:  www.facebook.com/events/930107137143919/

US Foreign Military Bases Must Be Closed!

There will be a national conference to discuss the problems caused by the expansive American military presence abroad, January 12-14, 2018 at Maryland's University of Baltimore. The conference is being organized by 13 national peace and justice organizations, including WILPF. For more information, see: noforeignbases.org/

Municipal Workers Bill of Rights campaign

United Electrical Local 150 (UE150) will march in Greensboro's Martin Luther King Day Parade (January 15th line up 9:45am, the parade starts at 11am, at Benbow Professional Plaza, 2031 MLK Drive, Suite A) and there will be a press conference at 5pm on the 16th in front of the Melvin Municipal Building (300 West Washington Street), before workers address a City Council meeting.  This year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of UE150 and 50 years since Martin Luther King was killed while organizing for the rights of workers in Memphis.  UE150 is launching campaigns for a Municipal Workers Bill of Rights, to end "'Right to Work' (for less!)," and to publicize the ILO ruling that North Carolina's ban on collective bargaining by public workers is against international law.  A municipal worker, Anthony Milledge, died after 14 hours of work on a summer day, and UE says none of NC's cities had written policies regarding work in dangerously hot weather.  For more information see:  www.facebook.com/events/395068774261948/
 
Durham Garden Forum: Honeybees and Native Bees

Matthew Yearout of the Durham Beekeepers' Association ( www.durhambeekeepers.org/ ) will talk about bee biology, both non-native honeybees and native bees, important pollinating insects that are having problems, Tuesday, January 16th 6:30-8pm at the Doris Duke Center in Duke Gardens. This is part of the Durham Garden Forum, and is co-sponsored by NC Cooperative Extension - Durham County Center. Registration is not required, but participation will cost $10 dollars for non-members (Durham Garden Forum membership is $25 dollars for a year). There is free parking starting at 5pm. For more information, see: gardens.duke.edu/events/durham-garden-forum-honeybees-and-native-bees

Community Meeting on Sustainable Food Truck Certification

Don't Waste Durham is hosting a meeting on this sustainability certification program (www.dontwastedurham.org/sustainable-food-truck-program), Friday, January 19th, 11:30am-12:30pm at the Durham Co-op Market (1111 West Chapel Hill Street). The Facebook event is at: www.facebook.com/events/1783207281977725/

Anniversary Women's March on Asheville

There will be a march for women's rights January 20th 9am-1pm, from City Hall (Roger McGuire Green) to the Vance Monument.  There will be music at 9am and the main part of the rally begins at 10am.  For more information see:  www.facebook.com/events/408751532894308/

Women's Rally in Raleigh

On the anniversary of the marches in 2017, there will also be a rally January 20th in Raleigh, at the Halifax Mall (6 West Jones Street) 9am-1pm.  For more information see:  womensmarchonraleigh.org/ or www.facebook.com/events/1611316172263531/

Triad Women's March on the Polls 2018

This rally will be January 20th 12-3pm at Corpening Plaza in Winston-Salem (231 1st Street West; for details see:  www.facebook.com/events/162975924440724/

Women's March on Hillsborough - Orange County / March into Action!

This 2nd annual rally on issues important to women will be January 20th 3-5pm at the Historic Courthouse in Hillsborough (100 East King Street).  There will be live music and an advocacy marketplace.  Signs are very welcome.  There are public parking decks at East Margaret Lane and South Cameron Street and at Nash and Kollack streets (the Eno River deck).  For details see:  www.facebook.com/events/284533385405088/ 

News Voices:  Workshop on How to Access Local Media

News Voices NC Director Fiona Morgan will talk about how the public can get involved in journalism and influence the media, Tuesday, January 23rd at 6:30pm at Durham's Southwest Regional Library ( events.durhamcountylibrary.org/event/448743 ).   

"Let's Tear Down the Worst Slavery-Era Monument:  The Electoral College"

Frank Hyman ( frankhyman.com/index.html ) will talk about the harm caused by the Electoral College system and how to get rid ofv it, at Durham's Stanford L Warren Branch Library at 2pm January 27th (events.durhamcountylibrary.org/event/448780 ) . 

The National Liberation Front's Tet Offensive began January 30, 1968 during the Vietnam War.  [For more information see:  michaelharrison.org.uk/2017/02/31st-january-1968-tet-offensive-vietnam/ ]

Guantánamo Protest in Raleigh January 30th

NC Stop Torture Now ( ncstn.org/ ) is organizing a protest of the Trump Administration's rumoured plan to keep the Guantánamo prison camp open (on land stolen from Cuba) and to send even more people there, Tuesday, January 30th 12-1pm outside Raleigh's Terry Sanford Federal Building (310 New Bern Street, at the corner of Person and New Bern streets).  Trump will give his State of the Union address later that day at 9pm, and that could be when the expansion will be announced.  Forty-one people are already been imprisoned there without trial, and some were long ago deemed releasable, but they have remained there for years.  People should wear orange and bring signs. 

"Conserving Biodiversity and Bird Habitat When Land is Developed"

North Carolina Cooperative Extension and University of Florida Extension are organizing a workshop Wednesday, January 31st on ways to reduce harm to biodiversity and natural resources as projects are designed, built, and after construction.  The workshop will discuss "Building for Birds," an online system that lets people test how various amounts of forest fragmentation by roads, etc. and amounts of tree canopy will impact birds.  There will also be discussion of conservation programs in Onslow County, NC and extension service programs.  The workshop is free, unless participants want LEED CE or NC AICP credits, in which case there is a $20 dollar fee.  It will be from 8:15am to 12pm at Onslow County Cooperative Extension (4024 Richlands Highway in Jacksonville, North Carolina).  See this website for more information and registration.  It would be very beneficial if more public planners and companies considered how their actions affect birds and other species; less and less "wild" habitat is left, so other species are forced to live around humans or go extinct, leading to the sixth great extinction. 

An Assessment of Minority Voting Rights Access in the United States

The US Commission on Civil Rights, which monitors Federal government enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, will hold a public briefing and hear comments February 2nd at the Marriott Crabtree Raleigh Durham (4500 Marriott Drive, Raleigh).  There will be expert testimony 9am-4:30pm, and the public comment period will be 6-8pm.  Comments can also be made by email until March 19th.  Participants should RSVP to publicaffairs [at] usccr [period] gov.  The meeting will be livestreamed at:  https://www.youtube.com/user/USCCR/videos.  For more information see:  www.usccr.gov/index.php and it can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. 

Friends of the Durham Library Book Sale

There will be a one-day sale benefitting the Durham County Library system Saturday, February 3rd at Northgate Mall.  It will only be open to Friends of the Durham Library (FODL) from 10am-12 (people can join on site), and open to all 12-4pm.  For more information see:  durhamcountylibrary.org/friends/

Other upcoming library book sales

Amazingly, FODL has already announced its book sales for the year, and there are many (maybe a lot of library books are being retired in recent years):  March 17-18, April 28, June 9-10, August 4, September 15-16, October 27, and December 1-2. 

The Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library book sales will be April 13-15, September 7-9, and December 7-9 ( friendschpl.org/wp/book-sales/ ).

The Friends of the Chatham County Community Library also has a sale coming up April 12-14 ( friendsccl.org/ ).

The huge Wake County Public Libraries book sale will be May 3-6 at the Expo Center at the State Fairgrounds (www.wakegov.com/libraries/events/Pages/booksale.aspx  ).

There is probably an Information and Library Sciences student book sale coming up at UNC-Chapel Hill in the spring and possibly a library book sale in Lee County. 

Town Hall Meeting with Congressman David Price

There will be a town hall meeting with Representative David Price (a Democrat, representing the 4th Congressional district) February 3, 10-11:30am at the Century Center Hall Auditorium (100 North Greensboro Street) in Carrboro.  People are asked to register, but seating is not guaranteed.  For more information see:   www.eventbrite.com/e/town-hall-meeting-tickets-42101095510 and the Facebook event page is:  www.facebook.com/events/275123666353240/  His Facebook page lists several town hall meetings last year, including one last April in Chapel Hill, but none in Durham. 

There will be a phone conference February 3rd, 3-4:30pm EST to plan a national action campaign against the wars at home and abroad this spring:  noforeignbases.org/

Rally to support immigrants and DACA

There will be a protest Tuesday, February 6th 11:30-12:30pm at 310 New Bern Avenue in Raleigh ( www.facebook.com/events/180799549357872/ ).  This is part of the Tuesdays with Tillis protest movement that has been gathering every Tuesday 11:30-12:30 since Trump was inaugurated a year ago ( www.facebook.com/TillisTuesdays/ ). 

February 5, 2003 Colin Powell spoke before the UN Security Council, claiming that Iraq had mobile biological weapon labs and was developing nuclear weapons, helping pave the way for the war the US and UK launched in late March. 

The Orangeburg Massacre was February 8, 1968 at South Carolina State University, killing 3 and injuring 27.

Stop SB 145: A City-Wide Letter Writing Event

People will be able to go to several businesses in downtown Raleigh during the day on Thursday, February 8th and write letters to their representatives against SB 145.  This NC Senate bill would force the UNC system to reveal student immigration status to police when asked (possibly violating the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), bar local police from accepting community IDs, require the Highway Patrol to join the 287(g) program, the NC Attorney General would have to investigate anonymous tips claiming that local governments were violating immigration laws, and if found in violation, local governments would lose transportation funds, etc. (but "sanctuary cities" are already against State law).  This campaign is being organized by Trey Roberts, El Pueblo, the ACLU of North Carolina, and TIPS- This Is Proper Service.  Volunteers from the ACLU and El Pueblo will be hand with pens and paper and will collect donations to help El Pueblo send a delegation to the Unidos US Community Leaders in Action Summit in DC.  For details see:  www.facebook.com/events/172986066653823/  For more information about SB 145 see:  www.aclu.org/news/sweeping-anti-immigrant-measure-passes-nc-senate-committee  and the text and current status can be found at:  www.ncga.state.nc.us/

The annual HK on J demonstration in Raleigh will be February 10th (naacpnc.org/hkonj-peoples-assembly-coalition/ ).  The Facebook page is:   www.facebook.com/events/1841465486167557/ 

People can gather at 8:30am, there will be a pre-rally at 9, the march starts at 10, followed by a rally, and the events will be over around 12.  For more information see:  www.hkonj.com/  I think some public parking decks and spaces in downtown Raleigh and at NCSU are free on weekends.  Here are some local buses:

Biodiesel buses chartered by NAACP-Durham, Durham People's Alliance, NC WARN, Recyclique, and Greenway Transit Events; one bus from the Durham Farmers' Market (intersection of Foster and Hunt streets) and another from Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (4907 Garrett Road, eruuf.org/event/6543-hkonj-march.html ), both leaving Durham at 8am and leaving Raleigh from the parking lot at the intersection of Jones and Blunt streets, behind the NC History Museum at 1pm; tickets $10 dollars and tips to the drivers and organizing groups welcome (sign up here).

Chapel Hill Carrboro NAACP buses from the United Church of Chapel Hill (1321 MLK Boulevard, next to Homestead Road); $15 adult/$10 child tickets:  www.emailmeform.com/builder/form/2AmZdbH1xwM3G6

Community Church of Chapel Hill, Unitarian Universalist (106 Purefoy Road, near UNC Hospital); $20 adult/$10 child, board 7:30, leave 7:45am, return around 2pm:  www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3319984

Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation Urban Stream Advocacy Training

Learn how to monitor and advocate for urban waterways in this free workshop February 10th, 9am-4pm at Johnson C Smith University in Charlotte.  Lunch will be provided and there will be a field excursion.  Funded by the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation.  There will be another workshop March 10th, details TBA.  For more information see: www.catawbariverkeeper.org/2018/01/09/urban-stream-advocacy-training-charlotte/ or www.facebook.com/events/181441362607044/

Rooted in Trees:  Landscaping in Harmony with Our Native Environment

The Georgia Native Plant Society is hosting its 23rd annual Native Plant Symposium, this year focusing on landscaping with trees native to Georgia.  It will be February 10th at Middle Georgia State University in Macon.  For more information see:  gnps.org/2018-georgia-native-plant-symposium-registration-open/ or  www.facebook.com/events/1805099776227352/

Not a Crime to be Poor:  A Conversation with Peter Edelman

Peter Edelman, a law professor at Georgetown University and a member of the JFK and Bill Clinton administrations (he resigned after Clinton endorsed welfare reform bills in 1996), will speak and sign books at MDC in Durham (307 West Main Street) Friday, February 16th 7:45-10am.  There will be a reception with coffee and pastries 7:45-8:15, Edelman will speak 8:15-9:30, and sign books afterward  (books will be sold at the event).  Register here

Crises of Citizenship:  Global Spotlight Week 2018

There will be several events February 17 - 24 relating to "crises of citizenship and belonging across world regions," organized by UNC's six area studies centers.  There are events that seem progressive, such as a screening and discussion of the film Documented February 19th at 5:30pm, while "Moment of Truth:  How Russian-Style Reality Came to America" February 22nd at 7pm, organized by the rightist UNC Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies, seems like it will be a reactionary event to discuss how nefarious Russia is a threat to the world, so we need to increase military funding in preparation for a nuclear world war and remove speech that disagrees with the neoliberal government narrative conveyed by the New York Times, NPR (which is now starting to talk about alleged cultural influence by China as well), PBS, BBC, etc.  There have already been attacks on well-known leftist websites such as www.counterpunch.org in this new McCarthyism.    

Durham Confederate statue toppling trial and protest

There is a call for people to attend the trial Monday, February 19th at 8:30am at the Durham County Courthouse (510 South Dillard Street), and there will be a rally and march at 6pm at 200 East Main Street (www.doitlikedurham.org).

The last known Carolina parakeet died February 21, 1918 at the Cincinnati Zoo, apparently in the same place where the last captive passenger pigeon, Martha, died September 1, 1914.  He was named Incas and died shortly after his mate Lady Jane.  The last known wild bird was killed in Florida in 1904, though there were reported sightings in swamps near the Santee River in South Carolina, but of course the habitat was later destroyed. 

National Invasive Species Week 2018 is February 26-March 2 ( www.nisaw.org/ ).

Valentine's Day is Wednesday, February 14th, and is controversial from a left or nationalist point of view in some countries (and a right or religious point of view elsewhere), according to Wikipedia.  Apparently the 14th day of each month has romantic allusions in the ROK, and April 14th is Black Day, for people who didn't have a valentine.

WASTED! Film Screening and Sustainability Fair

The NC Botanical Garden, Don't Waste Durham, and Food for All are showing Anthony Bourdain's documentary Wasted!  A Story of Food Waste Friday, February 16th 6-9pm.  Groups organizing around food waste and sustainability will be tabling and dinner can be bought from Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe.  The event is free, but registration is required, and as of this writing it is at capacity, but more spaces might open up later:  ncbg.unc.edu/calendar/   

Construction of the Soviet space station Mir (meaning peace) began February 19, 1986 and due to lack of funding it was de-orbited March 23, 2001. 

The Coalition Against US Foreign Military Bases is calling for a day of action against the US occupation of Guantánamo Bay on February 23rd, the 115th anniversary of the American takeover following the Spanish-American War, often considered the first US imperialist foreign war ( noforeignbases.org/ ). 

International Polar Bear Day is Tuesday, February 27th ( polarbearsinternational.org/get-involved/international-polar-bear-day )

March 2nd is Tree Planting Day in DPR Korea.  This is similar to Arbor Day and Earth Day and was instituted by Kim Jong Il.  For more information see:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbor_Day#Korea  nsnbc.me/2013/03/02/tree-planting-day-in-the-dpr-korea-embodies-socialist-and-traditional-asian-cultural-values/

The first woman in space, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, was born March 6, 1937, and went into space June 16, 1963. 

International Women's Day is Thursday, March 8th. 

Growing Color Symposium

The North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville is hosting a symposium on creating a sustainable, plant-based dye industry in western NC, March 8th.  For more information see:  4020a.blackbaudhosting.com/4020a/sp-18-growing-color-symposium

Russian revolutionary and Soviet statesman Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was born March 9, 1890.  

The first human in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, was born March 9, 1934 and went into space April 12, 1961. 

25th Annual Organic Growers School Spring Conference

The Organic Growers School hosts a conference every spring focusing on organic practices, permaculture, sustainability, urban farming, and rural homesteading.  It will be March 9-11 at UNC-Asheville.  For more information see:  organicgrowersschool.org/conferences/spring/ or www.facebook.com/events/114411132528770/

US soldiers carried out the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam 50 years ago on March 16th (in 1968). 
 
Durham Creek Week 2018 will be March 17-24th (events will be listed at www.keepdurhambeautiful.org). There was a Swift Creek Week in 2017 in Wake County, but there has not been an announcement for 2018 yet [updated:  there will be events March 17-24th]: riverguardfdn.org/swift-creek-week.html
 
Forsyth Creek Week 2018 will be March 17-25 in Forsyth County (the Winston-Salem area); events will be listed at: forsythcreekweek.squarespace.com/

Cosmonaut Alexey Leonov stepped outside of his spacecraft, the first ever extravehicular activity (EVA) in space, March 18, 1965.

The annual Haw River Clean-Up-a-Thon will be March 18th ( hawriver.org/events/upcoming-events/ )

Chinese revolutionary and wife of Mao Tse-tung, Jiang Qing/Chiang Ching, was born March 19, 1914.

March 20th is the spring equinox.

The Iraq War began about March 20, 2003, though the US did not have peaceful relations with Iraq prior to 2003. 

The Hungarian Soviet Republic was declared March 21, 1919, but was overthrown by outside military intervention in August 1919.  It was led by Béla Kun, born February 20, 1886. 

World Water Day is Thursday March 22nd. 

Farmworker Awareness Week 2018 is March 24-31 ( www.saf-unite.org/content/national-farmworker-awareness-week ).

The annual Pilgrimage for Peace and Justice walk across North Carolina will probably be in the week or two before Good Friday, March 30th, but I don't have details yet. 

Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated April 4, 1968 while organizing in support of black public workers in Memphis. 

April 12th is the UN International Human Space Flight Day/Cosmonautics Day in honor of the first human space flight, in 1961.  US Astronauts Day is the last Friday in January. 

Earth Day Festival in Greensboro

The Kathleen Clay Library's annual Earth Day Festival will be April 14th 1-5pm.  For more information see:  www.greensboro-nc.gov/index.aspx?page=844&recordid=47750

Jordan Lake festival

Instead of having a heritage day in the fall, there will be an event April 21st at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area's White Oak access, off of Highway 64.  It might be called something like a fishing day, but it will cover more than fishing.  More information should be posted closer to the event at:  www.ncparks.gov/jordan-lake-state-recreation-area/events-and-programs    

Rivercane Rendezvous 2018

This gathering April 16-22, hosted by Earthskills Rendezvous, focuses on ancient skills, such as wild foods, stone toolmaking, and basket weaving.  It will be in Westminster, South Carolina; for more information see:  www.facebook.com/events/377066652741447/

NC Statewide Star Party
There will be stargazing events across the State April 20-21, part of the NC Science Festival throughout April. This year's theme is "Anyone Out There?" This is the 6th year for this annual event. For more, see: www.ncsciencefestival.org/starparty

The annual Party for the Pine at Weymouth Woods - Sandhills Nature Preserve will be April 21st ( www.partyforthepine.org/ ).
 
April 22nd is Earth Day and Russian revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin was born April 22, 1870. 

Easter Rising for Irish independence began April 24, 1916.

Arbor Day is Friday, April 27th.  Durham's Arbor Day celebration is usually in March. 

The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan launched the Saur Revolution April 27, 1978, followed by US support for Islamist terrorists, prior to the Soviet intervention in December 1979 that overthrew the more radical faction of the PDPA. 

Save the Frogs Day is Saturday, April 28th ( www.savethefrogs.com/d/day/index.html ). 

Mother Earth News Fair

This convention April 28-29th near Asheville focuses on sustainable living, such as organic gardening, green building, alternative vehicles, etc.  For more information see:  www.facebook.com/events/977898782363729/

International Workers' Day / May Day is May 1st, a Tuesday this year.  There will probably be events around the 1st, but I haven't come across any announcements yet. 

The annual Haw River Festival will be May 6th in Saxapahaw ( hawriver.org/events/upcoming-events/ ).

International Migratory Bird Day is Saturday, May 12th. 

Mother's Day in the US is Sunday, May 13th and has pacifist and social welfare roots. 

I've heard that this is also the time to see the mountain laurels blooming at Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, south of Hillsborough, across the Eno River, and probably elsewhere along the Eno (www.ncparks.gov/occoneechee-mountain-state-natural-area ).  The end of the ice ages left brown elfin butterflies stranded on Occoneechee, white pines at the White Pines Nature Preserve south of Pittsboro, and Eastern hemlocks at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary.  In many cases species that live on mountains are very at risk from climate change, because they can only retreat up, and at some point there may be nowhere else to go.  Non-native pests are also threatening the hemlocks. 

The last known sighting of a Costa Rican golden toad was May 15, 1989 and they are thought to be extinct.  The species was first described scientifically in 1966.  There is still debate about the cause, but this might be an early example of anthropogenic climate change killing a species.  Possibly the cause was a chytrid fungus epidemic, possibly assisted by climate change, and a major threat to frog species in many countries.          

Endangered Species Day is Friday, May 18th. 
 
The 9th annual Longleaf Festival will be May 19th at Harris Lake County Park in Wake County ( www.wakegov.com/parks/harrislake/Pages/Longleaf-Festival.aspx ). 

World Turtle Day is Wednesday, May 23rd.

A Chapel Hill activist calendar:

"Some Triangle Peace and Justice Events January 19 to 30, 2018
 (Events listed in chronological order except for recurring event posted at end)

 

5 BROKEN CAMERAS  Award-winning documentary, first-hand account of peaceful resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements, following Palestinian farmer, Emad Burnat, who films 5 years of village turmoil, in collaboration with Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi. 6:30 p. m., Friday, January 19, Recyclique, 2811 Hillsborough Road, Durham (parking in Food Lion lot). $ 5 suggested.  http://communecos.org/
DISARM THE PATRIARCHY   Women's rallies on anniversary of Inauguration. Movement to reject nuclear weapons and brinkmanship. Public pressure and grassroots mobilization historically most effective at moving needle against nuclear weapons. This January, thousands join again at anniversary marches and community events Saturday, January 20.  Two nearby: 9 a.m - 1 p.m.,Halifax Mall, 16 West Jones Street, Raleigh. Chapel Hill carpool: 919-929-5983; 3 p.m., Old Orange County Courthouse, 100 East King Street, Hillsborough.

COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS WITH FOREIGN-BORN RESIDENTS OF CHAPEL HILL  Opportunity for residents to share their experiences and recommendations for local government with conversations in Arabic, Burmese, English, and Russian Languages.  Collaborative project of UNC-Chapel Hill, Town of Chapel Hill, and foreign-born residents to seek newcomer perspectives to improve leadership opportunities, communication, and services in Chapel Hill. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Saturday, January 20, Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Dr.  To RSVP visit here or contact 919-962-5453
AFRICAN AMERICAN SORORITIES  Their history, accomplishments, and contributions to our communities. Dr. Mary Phillips  discusses Delta Sigma Theta and Links, Inc., and Paula Newman describes AKA.  1:15 – 2:15 p.m., Monday, January 22, Carol Woods Assembly Hall, 750 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill.  Elders for Peace, csmhubbard [at gmail period com].
 
Whose Streets?  Documentary about Ferguson uprising and new wave of resistance screening followed by panel with Chapel Hill chief of police, staff attorney of Southern Coalition for Social Justice, criminal justice debt fellow for NC ACLU, and UNC student organizer for Silent Sam sit-in, moderated by James Williams, former public defender of Orange and Chatham Counties.

THE EMERGENCE OF TERRORISM: A NEW PARADIGM Author Marc Sageman, currently a Senior Fellow at Foreign Policy Research Institute's Center for the Study of Terrorism, discusses various campaigns of political violence spanning two centuries and four continents. 5 p.m., Monday, January 22 , Duke’s Gross Hall Room 270, 140 Science Drive at corner of Towerview Road. Sponsored by Duke University Center for International and Global Studies. More information: visit here.
CATCHING THE SUN Screening of documentary about solar industry, followed by discussion of Clean Path 2025 with a NC WARN representative explaining plan to replace fossil fuels with solar power and battery storage.  7:30 – 9:15 p. m., Monday, January 29, Varsity Theatre, 123 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill. Needed ASAP, sale of more $ 10 tickets by January 22 to make this event happen. Purchase: www.tugg.com/events/catching-t he-sun-isqy.  Host: ECO Committee, Community Church of Chapel Hill UU.
ESCAPE FROM HELL: BASED ON THE TRUE STORY OF A SYRIAN POLITICAL PRISONER   Book talk and signing with co-authors Zubair Rushk, a senior at UNC majoring in global studies, and Daniel Romm, retired physician who found Rushk through a newspaper article and offered mentorship.  Arguments presented include US travel ban, torture in prison, war effects on health of children, and discrimination. 6-7:30 p.m., Thursday, January 25, UNC’s FedEx Global Education Center, Room 1005, Pittsboro and McCauley Streets.  Mideast [at unc period edu].
FREDERICK DOUGLASS AT 200 KICKOFF CELEBRATION Community-wide celebration of life and legacy of Frederick Douglass with an evening of art and song, featuring Tarish “Jeghetto” Pipkins with his newest creation, a Frederick Douglass puppet,  and Mary D. Williams, gospel singer and scholar, who will sing story of African-American experience from slavery to abolition and beyond.  7 p.m., Thursday, January 25, United Church of Chapel Hill, 1321 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
 
REPAIRERS OF THE BREACH TRAINING  2018 Poor People’s Campaign with moral fusion organizing principles and stories of current faith-rooted organizing. Program led by Rev. Dr. William Barber and hosted by Duke Divinity School. 1-5 p. m., Saturday, January 27, Union Baptist Church, 904 North Roxboro Street, Durham. $15 pre-reservation by January 20 via https://tinyurl.com/theolo gy-activism or contact Duke: 919-660-3444 or stompkins@div.duke.edu. www.breachrepairers.org/#event s-resources-section.
 
MUSLIMS’ CONTRIBUTIONS IN THE MAKING OF AMERICA  Speaker Amir Muhammad, author, historian, and co-founder of America’s Islamic Heritage Museum and Cultural Center. He and his wife, Dr. Habeebah Muhammad, have dedicated themselves to documenting untold stories of Muslim life in America. 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Sunday, January 28, The Vital Link Event Center, 1214 East Lenoir Street, Raleigh. $10 donation suggested. Information and to register, please visit here.
 
THE BLACK PRESS IN AMERICA  Speaker Adria Jervay, publisher of The Carolinian Newspaper and Creative Director of The Jervay Agency. Currently The Carolinian is the only African-American newspaper published twice weekly in NC and remains family-owned and operated. 1:15 – 2:15 p.m., Monday, January 29, Carol Woods Assembly Hall, 750 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill.  Elders for Peace, csmhubbard [at gmail period com].
 
WHOSE STREETS?  Documentary about Ferguson uprising and new wave of resistance screening. Panel with Chapel Hill chief of police, staff attorney of Southern Coalition for Social Justice, criminal justice debt fellow for NC ACLU, and UNC student organizer for Silent Sam sit-in, moderated by James Williams, former public defender of Orange and Chatham Counties. 7 p.m., Monday, January 29, Varsity Theatre, 123 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill. Sponsored by Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP and Orange Organizing Against Racism.
 
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND THE IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY: A PATH TO SAFETY Invitation to hear civil and criminal remedies and resolutions for undocumented foreign nationals. Featured speaker : Jorgelina Araneda, immigration attorney for more than 23 years. 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 30, Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Drive.  Sponsored by League of Women Voters of Orange, Durham and Chatham Counties'  Violence Against Women Action Team and Immigration Study Group.  Contact: arianne.hartsell [at gmail period com].

UNC STUDENT FIGHT AGAINST  WHITE  SUPREMACY  Effort  to educate public about Silent Sam statue and build support for its removal.  Join Women’s International  League  for Peace and Freedom—Triangle Branch to vigil and distribute information about history of  Silent Sam’s presence on  UNC campus.  Noon to 2 p.m., Wednesdays, Silent  Sam, East Franklin Street by Pettigrew Hall.  Community contact:  ekkeel [at embarqmail period com] or 252-944-7474.   
OPPORTUNITY TO HELP CHOOSING AND SHIPPING BOOKS TO NC PRISONERS  Come to Prison Books Collective that has sent free books to people on the inside in North Carolina and Alabama, and magazines around the country, since 2006. Volunteer workdays are 1 to 4 p. m, Sundays, 4312 Etta Rd, Durham. Directions and information: http://prisonbooks.info/get-in volved/volunteer/ . Contact: prisonbooks [at gmail period com]."

Saturday, December 30, 2017

PCMLE: In China, Capitalism Is Being Consolidated, Not Socialism

This is a translation (not mine) of a recent series of articles in the PCMLE's paper En Marcha.    

In China, Capitalism Is Being Consolidated,
Not Socialism

From En Marcha (Central Organ of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Ecuador [PCMLE, www.pcmle.org]), November 22, 29, December 5 and 13 2017
During the 1980s, China's economy was already shifting to "market forces," a process that deepened with the privatization of state-owned companies in the 1990s. During that period China established State monopoly capitalism, that is, a system in which capitalist relations of production existed in sectors and companies with strong state control.

The recent holding of the 11th Congress of the Communist Party of China has been the reason for a series of reports and analyses about what is happening in this Asian giant and where the main resolutions of the Chinese meeting will lead it continuing in the "building of a modern socialist country."

The idea of China as a country in which socialism is being built is being spread, more by the propaganda carried out by different sectors than by the real understanding of what is happening there. For the older generations, China is associated with the image of Mao Zedong and the great revolution that, after a long civil war, triumphed in October 1949 in a country of poor and starving peasants. Younger generations see China as an industrialized country that is competing with the United States for economic primacy and influence in the world.

The important steps that the democratic revolution took in its early years, to overcome the semi-feudal and semi-colonial structure, which were seen mainly in the collectivization of the land, in the state ownership in some sectors of the economy, in the attempts to initiate a process of industrialization of the country and in the execution of a policy of defense of its sovereignty they were maintained while Mao Zedong1 was alive. But the existence of diverse currents within the CPC, and the control of the leadership of the CPC that one of the most rightist factions achieved in 1978, led to a process of termination of the economic and social transformations achieved, which led to China becoming a capitalist country.

These reforms began mainly with the naming of Deng Xiaoping and Chen Yun to the main positions in the Party. Chen, who lost positions within the CPP when in 1958 Mao launched the policy of the "Great Leap Forward" (which sought to industrialize the country), was the promoter of a series of reforms in relation to land tenure and the structure and operation of state enterprises.

Deng Xiaoping became the main head of the reform process. Known for his pragmatism, he came up with the phrase "One country, two systems," by which he made it clear that his interest was in developing capitalist enclaves. Over time, these capitalist forms of production and exploitation became generalized throughout the territory. He also spread the concept of "socialism with Chinese characteristics," behind which was hidden the carrying out of a political economic program, totally remote from the Marxist-Leninist precepts that assure the move towards socialism. Of course, a pro-capitalist element like Deng could not call for consistency with Marxism-Leninism. In addition, after the clamor about "socialism with Chinese characteristics," the revisionists and rightists in the CPC have maintained an apparently communist rhetoric, while working for the establishment of capitalism.

The reforms implemented during the 1980s led to the reestablishment of private agriculture, the opening up to foreign capital through the so-called Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and the flourishing of private businesses.

The SEZs were recipients of Foreign Direct Investments, operated as free trade zones for the processing of exports, industrial parks and free ports. They established special legal regulations allowing for foreign capital and oriented towards a market economy.

In 1980 private agriculture was allowed in areas where people "had lost their trust in the collectives" and in 1982 this became a national policy. This is how the de-collectivization of agriculture began.

The reforms also eliminated almost all the prices set by the government and allowed them to be established by the market.

In the cities, forms of "self-employment" were recognized to deal with the high rate of unemployed.

In this way, during the 1980s the Chinese economy was already moving towards "market forces," a process that was deepened by the privatization of state enterprises in the 1990s.

It should be noted that privatization did not extend to all companies, nor was private and foreign capital the majority of shares, as is now happening with the latest reforms. The Chinese government established a system of control for foreign capital and there is always a presence of government capital in these ventures which projects – only projects – state dominance in the economy. This confuses many people with the socialist form of production.

Thus, during this period China established a State monopoly capitalism, meaning a system in which capitalist relations of production existed in sectors and enterprises with strong State control.

Later reforms and policies adopted by the CPC allowed a greater presence of private and foreign capital in the Chinese economy, making it an openly capitalist country.

The presence of private local and foreign capital in China's economy is greater every day, due to the various reforms that have been applied since the 1980s to date. Capitalist property is developing freely.

At present, there are three types of companies operating in the Chinese economy:
State-owned companies, which control the banking, energy, telephone and transport sectors, although in some of them there is a small private presence. In 2015, the government controlled 39% of industrial assets and 85% of bank assets.

The companies formed by private capitalists, mostly foreigners, and entities supported by the Government.

Private companies, although with strong state controls and closely related to the governmental apparatus, such as BYD, Geely, Chery, Huawei.

In all of them, what is central is that capitalist relations of exploitation dominate. Even state companies act according to and are subjected to the logic of the market and profit.

The number of state-owned companies has decreased considerably in recent years, and the policies that the Communist Party of China applies are aimed at reducing their presence and opening their doors to local and foreign private capital. It is estimated that currently state enterprises create only 17% of urban employment, while in the past the percentage was much higher. Between 80% and 90% of those laid off in the state sector entered into the private sector or became self-employed; in 2004, employment in the private sector represented 2/3 of total urban employment. In the 1990s, under Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, the wave of privatizations led to the closing of 60 thousand enterprises and the dismissal of 30 million workers.

China ranks third in the world as a recipient of Foreign Direct Investment, according to a report this year by UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), after the United States and the United Kingdom. In 2016 it received $133 thousand million in investments, a little less than its historic maximum of $135 thousand million in 2015.

But not only does it receive investments, it also exports capital abroad. In 2016 its capital flow abroad amounted to $183 thousand million dollars.

The resolutions of the recent Congress of the CPC, in what concerns this analysis, establish measures to allow a greater presence of foreign private capital. Chen Fengying, an expert with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the newspaper Global Times (November 17) that "the relationship between foreign companies and the Chinese market will be more fluid, as the 19th Congress of the CPC pointed out that China will greatly ease market access for foreign capital." Three days earlier, the same newspaper reported that, according to a bulletin of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "majority foreign participation in joint ventures will be allowed in the businesses of new energy vehicles" next year.

The previous year (2016), the guidelines issued by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of the State Council established that "qualified employees of selected state companies in the industry fully open to competition may purchase shares of the company." The State should keep at least 34% of the total shares of each company, while the employees must have less than 30% combined. In the 1980s and 1990s, something like that was tried, and the result was that a lot of shares were bought by the administrative and party officials.

Capitalism and capitalist accumulation is based on very high levels of exploitation of labor power and has meant the widening of the gap between capitalists, workers, peasants and the unemployed.

Six hundred thousand workers die each year due to labor exploitation, according to information published in the newspaper of the League of Communist Youth of China. Chinese workers suffer from low wages, long working hours and few social and union rights. In 2000, the Deputy Minister of Health, Yin Dakui, acknowledged that in many companies the owners "sacrifice the health of the workers to make money."

The differences in income levels are greater than those in the more advanced capitalist countries: the incomes of urban residents are 3.3% higher than the income of residents in the countryside; the incomes of industry employees with the highest wages are 15 times higher than those with lowest incomes; the incomes of the top managers of state companies is 18 times higher than those of their employees.

On average, the income of the highest officials is 128 times higher than the average salary in the country. In 2007, the income differential between the richest 10% and the poorest 10% was 23 times, according to Li Shi, Director of the Research Center on Income Distribution and Poverty of the Beijing Normal University.

In 2015, it was established that the wealthiest 1% of the population in China owned a third of the country's wealth, while 25% of the population with fewer resources only holds 1% of that wealth.

China already surpassed the United States as the country with the most billionaires in the world. In 2011, according to the Hurun List (the Hurun Research Institute conducts studies of the richest people), in China there were 271 multi-billionaires, that is, people with more than a thousand million dollars in wealth; in 2016 there were 596 billionaires, compared to 537 in the US. This year's report states that real estate mogul Xu Jiayin, founder of the China Evergrande Group, is now the richest man in that country: his fortune amounted to $43 thousand million.

With all this, can one believe that China is building socialism?

The 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China outlined a political line whose main purposes are to affirm the capitalist relations and make China a great world capitalist power. It consecrated "Xi Jinping Thought" as the theoretical source of that policy.

The deepening and strengthening of capitalism in China and the consecration of so-called "Xi Jinping Thought" constitute the essential elements approved by the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China, held last October. From them are derived other propositions, such as making that country a great capitalist power.

Over the last four decades, the adoption of pro-capitalist reforms has always been covered up by "innovative" proposals that, due to their importance, have been classified as a "theory" or "thought."Now the congress of the Chinese revisionists has decided to reform the Constitution of the Party and to "glorify" Xi Jinping's "Thought about socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era." In this way, the thought of the current head of the CPC puts him on the same level of Marxism-Leninism as Mao Zedog's thought, Deng Xiaoping's theory and the theory of the three representations. " Xi’s thought is the latest achievement and the latest level of Marxist practice; writing it into the Constitution shows the authority of Xi's thought, which demands that the Party obey and promote the development of the theory," says Cai Zhiqiang, professor of the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC.

The latest reform to the Party Constitution made in this regard took place at the 12th Congress of the CPC in 1982, in which – according to the official version – "the errors of the 'left' were corrected and the economic construction for socialist modernization was established as the center of the Party's work." It was the period of Deng Xiaoping that introduced a series of reforms of capitalist content (see issue #1794 of En Marcha). In 1997 the "Theory of Deng Xiaoping" was established as the guiding theory of the CPC; in 2002 it was the Theory of the Three Representations and in 2007 the Scientific Perspective on Development.

The theory of the Three Representations, coined by Jiang Zemin, speaks of "taking a step forward on the socialist road" incorporating the so-called "emerging sectors of society: entrepreneurs, capitalists and the middle class." The emerging classes that Jiang Semin was talking about at that time were the new entrepreneurs and financiers, who according to him, were the "builders, together with other social sectors, of socialism with Chinese characteristics," a euphemism which concealed the presence of capitalism. It can be said that this theory is an extension of Deng Xiaoping's theory: "One country, two systems".

"The Party must always represent the concerns of development of China's advanced productive forces, represent the orientation of development of China's advanced culture, and represent the fundamental interests of the majority of China's population," Jiang Zemin stated at the 16th National Congress of the CPC when arguing his theory. This approach forms the ideological basis that allowed many entrepreneurs to join the CPC; it expresses the total abandonment of the class character of that a true communist party must have – which does not call attention to what they are doing – and also the abandonment of the principle of class struggle. In the press and television this theory was presented as a method to help the humble people to improve their quality of life, that is, to earn more money.

These new inclusions in the CPC Constitution constitute "a range of new ideas, ideas and strategies presented by the Central Committee of the CPC with Xi as its core ... which include the decisive role of market forces in the allocation of resources...," which makes it clear that the essence of Xi’s thought is liberalism.

With that thought, the CPC aims to strengthen capitalism in China and turn it into a great world capitalist power. "The original aspirations of the Chinese Communists and their mission are precisely to pursue the happiness of the Chinese people and achieve the revitalization of the Chinese nation," says Xi Jinping in his report presented to the 19th National Congress of the CPC. "The realization of the great revitalization of the Chinese nation is the greatest dream that our nation has caressed since the modern era," he repeats in the same report, and therefore "we must adapt to the current of time, to obey the will of the people and to have the courage to carry out the reform and the opening up, so that the cause of the Party and the people always overflow with a powerful driving force that allows them to move boldly." In other words, to deepen the reform of capitalist content.
So affirmed is capitalism in China that in the same report it is recognized that the Central Committee has had to take measures to "rectify," among other behaviors, the hedonism and the proclivity to waste and sumptuousness, typical expressions of a bourgeois society.
 
As we pointed out earlier, one of the objectives proposed by the revisionists who lead the Communist Party of China is to make of their country a great capitalist power, with a decisive role in the complex international political scene. This proposal is based on the directive mentioned several times by Xi Jinping in his report to the 19th Congress of the CPC, which is summarized in the phrase "carry out the great revitalization of the Chinese nation."

This vision implies, on the one hand, the denial of the Leninist theory of nationalities, since one cannot ignore the existence of other nations and nationalities in that huge country and, therefore, it is not possible to characterize those peoples as "ethnic minorities," as is stated in that report. On the other hand, this position expresses a chauvinist vision of the Chinese nation since, as an essential complement to realize that objective in the international arena, it proposes to have a "world-class army."2

When speaking of a nation, one means a group of people who have fundamental elements in common that give them a national identity, regardless of their class condition. Therefore, the statement to "revitalize the Chinese nation" implies promoting all the sectors that comprise it, including the very powerful Chinese bourgeoisie – which now can even join the CPC – abandoning the class vision of society and the proletarian character of the socialist system. Nationalism, contrary to the proletarian internationalist essence of Marxism-Leninism, always tends to belittle or repudiate other cultures or nations; therefore, it is excluding.

That nationalist chauvinism leads Jinping to talk about the "Chinazation" of Marxism. "The thinking about socialism with Chinese peculiarities of the new epoch,” he stated in his Report, “is the most recent fruit of the Chinazation of Marxism...".

The Chinazation of Marxism is nothing more than the label by which they seek to justify the total abandonment of Marxism; it is not the development of Marxism in the new conditions in which the world is living. So much so that, while proposing such "progress," they insist that socialism can only develop through reform and opening up (capitalist reform and opening up to private and foreign capital), and that one must "decisively eradicate all anachronistic ideas and concepts" and have "a completely new vision in close combination with the new conditions of our time and the new demands of practice." That is, for the Chinese revisionists, Marxism-Leninism is an anachronism.

The history of the international communist and revolutionary movement has gone through several periods in which revisionism has hidden or tried to justify its betrayal of Marxist-Leninist ideals under the criterion of local particularities. Tito acted this way with his "Yugoslav self-management," the Eurocommunist revisionists or the north Koreans with their deification of the "Juche idea."

Despite the fact that the CPC is making some effort to say that it is supposedly following the lines of Marxism-Leninism, its whole practice and the orientations defined at its last congress show the opposite. Let us look at some lines of action defined at its congress that can only lead to the consolidation of the existing capitalism:

• “Acceleration of the improvement of the system of the socialist market economy... we must focus on improving both the system of property rights as well as the market distribution of the elements of production...

• “We must deepen the reform of state-owned companies, develop the mixed-ownership economy and create world-class companies that are globally competitive...

• “...support the development of non-public companies and invigorate all kinds of market agents

• “We must be deepen the reform of the mercantile system, dismantle the administrative monopoly, prevent the monopolization of the market, accelerate the reform leading to the marketization of the prices of the elements of production, relax the restrictions on access to the service sector and the system of market supervision and control...

• “...we will deepen the reform of the rural land system and improve the system of separation of the "three rights" [ownership, contracting and management] of the lands contracted. (That is, private property of land is affirmed)

• “We will grant greater autonomy to reform the experimental free trade zones and explore the building of free ports. We must innovate the modalities of investment abroad...”

These aspects, and those presented in these articles devoted to the analysis of what is happening in China today, show us that capitalism has been imposed there. The workers and peoples of that country have the task of organizing and leading a genuine proletarian revolution to victory.

Sources:

* Report presented by Xi Jinping before the 19th National Congress of the CPC

* Global Times

1 Our party has made a critical analysis of the role played by Mao Zedong and the CPC from the victory of the revolution until the death of the Chinese leader in 1976, and we found in the so-called "Mao Zedong Thought" positions that differ with Marxism-Leninism in various aspects. These led to the implementation of an economic-political program that did not allow for the advance to the building of socialism in China.

2 From the Report of Xi Jinping to the 19th Congress of the CPC.