Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Discussion Saturday moved to 4-6pm

I didn't realize that the Carrboro Book Fair, a progressive annual event organized (?) by Internationalist Books, would be June 3rd when I scheduled the next TMF meeting.  I was able to move the meeting to 4-6pm Saturday at the same place.  At the last minute we also tried to get room at the Fair for a Marxism discussion.  I might table at the event.  The meeting might have at least 5 people based on replies to my announcements.  I'm depending on the Independent and online resources for publicity, and this is another not very much publicized meeting unfortunately.      

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Marxist Forum information

The next Triangle Marxist Forum discussion will be
about what capitalism is and how it works.  It will be
Saturday, June 3rd 1:30-3:30pm in the conference room
downstairs in the Chapel Hill Public Library (100
Library Dr., off of Estes Dr. on the north side, very
close to the intersection with East Franklin St.).

For readings, I suggest the next section from Lenin's
The Teachings of Karl Marx (or just titled Karl Marx)
-Marx's Economic Doctrine, covering value and surplus
value.  Also Marx's Wages, Prices, and Profit in vol.
2 of his Selected Works (or Value, Prices, and Profit
in vol. 20 of his Collected Works).  My course outline
suggests pages 103-149, but that is kind of long, so
we could look at about half of it in June, up to
Section 7.  It is available online at

We could look at the rest next time or move on (the
next outline focuses on macroeconomics, monopoly
capitalism, and imperialism).

I'm still looking for a short article illustrating
these ideas currently.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The history of CIA torture techniques

This is the article I mentioned a few months ago, covering some of the history and development of American "soft torture" techniques.  It is chilling and heinous what they did (and may still be doing) to people.  It is by Rebecca Lemov and was published November 16, 2005, by Slate magazine.    
A Wikipedia article about Cardinal Mindszenty is available at .  If he was tortured, it was wrong, but you can see that he was right-wing and would have had reasons to oppose and possibly act illegally against left governments.  Lemov tries to link this to the "Russians" and "Communists" but gives little information to prove that this was a systematic practice of the officially Marxist-Leninists states.  He sounds like a reactionary cleric, too reactionary even for the Vatican in the 60's, who made at least one anti-semitic statement (blaming the Jews for revolution in Hungary), according to a brief Web search.  He was reportedly an enemy of the Hungarian Bolsheviks after WWI and the "communist" Hungarian government after WWII (whether it was ML or not is another question, and it could have been ultra-left to attack the Catholic Church), but also an enemy of the Arrow Cross (?) Hungarian fascists during WWII.  This is based on just a little research, mainly through Wikipedia, though, so I could be wrong about the historical context.       

The Birth of Soft Torture

CIA interrogation techniques—a history.

By Rebecca Lemov
Updated Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2005, at 5:07 PM ET

In 1949, Cardinal Jószef Mindszenty appeared before the world's cameras to mumble his confession to treasonous crimes against the Hungarian church and state. For resisting communism, the World War II hero had been subjected for 39 days to sleep deprivation and humiliation, alternating with long hours of interrogation, by Russian-trained Hungarian police. His staged confession riveted the Central Intelligence Agency, which theorized in a security memorandum that Soviet-trained experts were controlling Mindszenty by "some unknown force." If the Communists had interrogation weapons that were evidently more subtle and effective than brute physical torture, the CIA decided, then it needed such weapons, too.

Illustration of an experiment run by Hull at Yale on university students in 1937.


Months later, the agency began a program to explore "avenues to the control of human behavior," as John Marks discusses in his book The Search for the Manchurian Candidate. During the next decade and a half, CIA experts honed the use of "chemical and biological materials capable of producing human behavioral and physiological changes" according to a retrospective CIA catalog written in 1963. And thus soft torture in the United States was born...

The rest of the article is available at

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Is the USA fascist?

What kind of a threat to democracy and the working class is Bush?  Have we passed from bourgeois democracy to a kind of
fascism or more authoritarian bourgeois democracy
under GW Bush or his predecessors?

I have my doubts about this, but the American system is definitely becoming more like fascism and maybe we are very close to a qualitative
change, if it hasn't happened already.  Marxist-Leninists (and everyone else too) should discuss this so we can analyze whether it has happened
already or how we will know American fascism when it appears.

Some Evidence

Some evidence is in the news every week (see,,,, , etc.), but the 2000
election, 9/11, and the 2004 election aspects are not.  I have not read in detail about the elections, but what I have read shows that the elections could have been stolen with electronic voting machines that do not leave paper trails, and there is evidence that this happened, such as the astonishing discrepancies between exit polls and the 'actual' results.  The Supreme Court in 2000 gave Bush the victory, while saying that this is not a legal precedent.  I thought Congress was the body charged with deciding undecided presidential elections (but I'm not sure about this).  Along with Bush's undemocratic methods and actions like lying to Congress and the people (a neo-conservative tactic), smearing opponents, excessive government secrecy, claiming divine inspiration, often ignoring Congressional and public pressure, and enriching friends and the rich in general, and the reactionary nature of the Republican Party (chauvinist, fundamentalist, and often racist in part, if not in whole, such as regarding Latino immigrants and Muslims) there are even more clearly fascist doctrines.  These include the idea of a unitary executive, having all powers not granted to Congress, that Bush is Commander-in-Chief of the country, not just of the military, claiming that fighting his "War on Terrorism" justifies ignoring the law, and his many signing statements, such as the one on the McCain 'anti-torture' rule, saying that he did not feel bound by it.  The Bush Administration didn't do all of this by itself, and some of these things aren't necessarily fascist, but taken together they are very undemocratic and against the Constitution and law regulated representative government.      
David Ray Griffin in "The New Pearl Harbor" and
Michael Ruppert in "Crossing the Rubicon" (his website is argue
persuasively that the US government was involved in
the 9/11/2001 attacks.  High level and active
involvement in allowing and carrying out the terrorist
attacks seems likely.  There are various revisionist theories (not all meant to fit together into a new story of 9/11) using physical evidence (such as that the WTC towers could not have collapsed due to jet fuel fires, that the three WTC collapses looked like controlled demolitions, that Flight 93 might have been shot down, and that a missile or small aircraft hit the Pentagon, not a jetliner, etc.), documentary or other evidence (such as hinderance of investigations that could have exposed the plot, several war games were going on that allowed the hijacked planes to reach their targets, evidence that US leaders expected the attacks and lied about this, a CIA official meeting with bin Laden after he was decalared to be a terrorist, etc.), and following the money trails (Pakistani intelligence financing of al-Qaida, huge futures trading spikes indicating that someone expected exactly what happened, who benefits from the attacks, etc.).  You can learn more through, the 9/11 truth movement's website.  Right now I'm going through the
9/11 Commission Report for the official version of what
happened; it of course basically ignores and does
not address the idea of a governmental conspiracy.
Under revisionist theories 9/11 was hidden terrorism
by the government to justify its planned actions, like
the Operation Northwoods plan to create a pretext for
attacking Cuba in the 60's.  This isn't the open
terrorism by the most reactionary sections of the
bourgeoisie mentioned in Dimitrov's (?) definition of
classical fascism, but it would be a very different
strategy for the US government since WWII.

Ruppert's book links Wall Street, illegal drugs, the
CIA, Peak Oil (permanently declining oil production),
9/11, and Bush domestic and foreign policies.  It
might sound too conspiratorial, but it is interesting
and he provides seemingly good arguments and evidence
(as much as someone outside of government can know).
He argues that the government knows we are facing an energy crisis, so it staged 9/11 to provide
justification for seizing oil supplies.  He argues
that the anthrax attacks and alleged assassinations
(such as the plane crash of Paul Wellstone of
Minnesota) have basically ended Congressional
resistance except for token resistance by people such
as Cynthia McKinney (D-GA).  He provides a chilling account
of what the Patriot Act and other laws make possible,
such as the deportation of American citizens,
dictatorial emergency rule, and imprisonment for refusing
potentially unsafe vaccinations.  It sounds like the
framework for political fascism is already here, but
not openly in action.  We would disagree on
some things; for example, imperialism theoretically
could involve many kinds of resources, not just energy
supplies).  What he says about bioweapons is
interesting but he didn't provide many details about
the idea that the elites actually want to reduce the
world population with disease and that seems overly
conspiratorial and not in the interests of the
bourgeoisie outside of war.  The bourgeoisie has allowed millions to die of starvation, preventable diseases, "natural disasters," etc., why would it need to use biological weapons now? 

I have the impression that this goes back to the 70's
and 80's and has gotten worse since the 90's.  I
noticed that in Howard Zinn's "A People's History of
the U.S. he refers to a bipartisan consensus since the
70's or 80's.  I want to look at this more in the future, to see how we got to today, but also how the Democrats are as bad for the working class as the Republicans and what capitalist faction each party serves.  The Democrats have obviously enabled Bush and they often work for similar goals.  Maybe there is a difference between
corporatist economic fascism, which could already
exist here, and political fascism, which is not in
place yet.


It is hard for me to call this fascism when things don't
seem greatly different now and they aren't like the
classical fascist systems (or are the US and those
states alike already?).  Bush serves business
interests very openly, but government institutional
control of the economy has in a way decreased since
WWII.  The economy is still regulated as it was in the 30's, but there has been deregulation, the creation of loss of profit lawsuits by free trade agreements, less drafting and enforcement of health, safety, and environmental rules, etc.  It is hard to believe that American fascism
started before the 70's, since the 60's were supposed
to have seen an expansion of democractic rights.  I know of an ML who I think argues that FDR created fascism, if I understand his position.  I think historian Karl Polanyi argues that everyone in the 30's was reacting to similar economic changes in somewhat similar ways, which is why we need a good definition of fascism, since most or all of the major powers (Germany, I assume Italy, though it became fascist in the 20's, the USSR, the US, and Japan (maybe in the 20's also), changed greatly during the 30's.   
It is valid to argue that it isn't
fascist since there is still basically freedom of
speech and protest and impeachment and censure can be
advocated in Congress.  
Average people probably
consider the charge of fascist extreme (and the
Republicans argue this already), and it is too easy a charge
to make if you are already fed up with government
policies.  Being able to call the USA fascist is
like calling your opponent evil, so if it isn't
obvious people will think we are crazy.  I myself am
suspicious of people saying the US is already fascist
or a police state, because it ignores shades
of gray and they usually don't define their terms.
Some people
are repressed, but from my position it seems like the
exception, not the rule. On the other hand, non-whites
are said to be repressed routinely, but not for
directly political reasons.  In a way prisoners in
the "War on Drugs" are very much political prisoners, though.

Would the American people accept Bush being an open
fascist, such as by suspending an election without having
an event like 9/11 happen again?  On the one hand
there might be a massive, grassroots revolt, but if
the military supported Bush maybe there wouldn't be enough
resistance to stop it.  If it were seemingly
legitimate we could have a situation like Germany in
the 30's when the Social-Democrats had weapons and
numbers to resist but didn't because the Nazis gained
power relatively legitimately.  Because the opposition
hesitated, they were neutralized, though I can't
remember whether they were disarmed first or somehow
just gave up and lost the organization to fight back.

What Do We Do to Stop Bush?

Then there is the question of what to do about this. If there were an election a logical step
seems to be refusing to accept it, following the
example of the US-inspired protests in the former
USSR.  We don't have enough support to follow the
examples of Bolivia and Nepal right now, but we can
work on that before 2008.  The public expects this approach and I think impeachment and using the law is still a way to go, though Republican (especially Bushist Republican) control of Congress does make impeachment harder to achieve. 

Locally I am working on a group lobbying for
impeachment (website and unofficial blog  Rep. David Price seems to think Congress has become
passive and stifled, but he won't directly support
impeachment or push for binding Congressional
investigations that could lead to impeachment.  He has
supported letters asking for explanation of the
Downing Street memos and for an independent special
counsel on the NSA's warrantless wiretapping, but this
requires Bush to create an investigation of his own
policies (and was of course rejected, the White House
calling for investigation of who leaked the program's

I organized a petition campaign and so far the Grass Roots Impeachment Movement has
organized 4 town meetings, with up to 150 participants
(to the capacity of the city hall).  April 27th we had
a meeting in Durham.  Democrat Kent Kanoy ( ran in the
May 2nd primary in part for impeachment.  He beat the
more conservative Democrat, but received far fewer
votes than our current representative, in a primary
that I've heard had about 1% turnout.  Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and maybe Durham next, have passed impeachment resolutions and it is
possible for state legislatures to force discussion in
Congress (and three are considering

The local movement is mainly white, older, and the
usual leftists, so we need to work on that.  Speakers
at the Durham meeting and possibly at the other town
meetings linked impeachment to social demands and
pointed out that the Democrats as a whole have
supported Bush's policies, which could broaden our
support and points out the truth about the Democrats.  The Marxist-Leninist Organizer (some pamphlets available at has a very good general proposal on a working class approach to impeachment, though things such as anti-unionism are not unconstitutional (unless the US has ratified international treaties on it perhaps)
The movement is mainly composed of Democrats, but we
have contact with socialists and the Green and
Libertarian parties.  We haven't reached out to
anti-Bush Republicans yet (according to national polls
they do exist, and in relatively large numbers).

So, what do you think about the idea that the
US is fascistic and what we can or are already doing
about it in practical terms?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mother's Day - an anti-war day of action!

Mother's Day is usually treated today at best as a day to honor individual mothers, but it began as an anti-war event.  Some groups, such as Code Pink, sponsored anti-war events to mark Mother's Day 2006.  This link to a 2003 article I found at gives a brief history of Mother's Day.  There are also articles on the site on anti-war actions marking the day this year.  The Stop Torture Now vigil this month in Johnston County just happened to fall on Mother's Day Weekend, but it fortuitously fits the occasion.   

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Thoughts on the Durham May Day forum

The Re-Imagining May Day / International Workers' Day community forum the evening of May 1st went well but was not as big as the organizers had hoped.  It was at the Friends Meeting House on the Duke Campus, which is a nice space, but would have been very cramped if lots of people had turned out.  Nicole Rowan of the Durham People's Alliance spoke on May Day history and passed out an article by Rosa Luxembourg.  Next there were speakers from the Forest Foundation (speaking on fair trade), the NC Coalition to Defend Health Care, myself (on local labor struggles), El Pueblo (on immigration), and I can't remember the name of the group represented on pay day lending.  It was probably the Center for Responsible Lending of the Self Help Credit Union.  It was very informative, and lots of questions were asked, mainly about immigration and healthcare I think.  NC House bill 1358 on healthcare was praised I think.  El Pueblo supports a compromise on immigration that is more progressive, but still fines undocumented immigrants to not offend public opinion.  It shows how broken our system is that, while free trade destroys Latin American economies, legal immigration can require years of waiting, and a wait of I think up to 15 years for reuniting families.  No wonder immigration, encouraged by American employers, occurs illegally.  North Carolina has attacked predatory lending, but it hasn't been ended here yet.  A $50 dollar loan from these companies ends up costing the average debtor hundreds of dollars.           
I went over the 5 minute speaking time because I didn't plan my remarks in detail and left out some more distant campaigns out.  No one asked any questions about labor, and I expect that that indicates a problem with communication on these issues.  On the other hand, the audience did seem to know about some local campaigns.     
There were 16 of us in all, including the vice chair of the Durham Republican Party (!), one or two activists with the International Socialist Organization, Lori Khamala of the National Farm Worker Ministry, and others.  There was some balance, but I was also disappointed that the audience was mostly white.  There was more diversity by age (still younger than at the Durham impeachment meeting though) and sex.  I think part of the problem is that we started detailed publicity late and we didn't know the Independent wouldn't have an issue out the week before.  I didn't do as much online publicity for this, apart from emails.  Having gotten upper front page publicity that Sunday and in the A section Monday in the Herald-Sun, I expected a crowd.  Nicole expected more Durham People's Alliance members to turn out.  Maybe it has something to do with all the stuff organized for for May Day 2006, but I still think our publicity and approach could be improved.   
It was a start, and the DPA plans to do something next year too.  Next year hopefully we can organize something bigger, even multiple events, and I would encourage again organizing in Chapel Hill.  The immigration events probably added weight to the occasion, so it will be in people's minds for next year.  
I'm thinking of things to organize for July 2006, since July 4th relates to civil rights, democracy, and revolution.  The DPA might be interested in this idea.  I'm not sure exactly how to approach this.  Doing something like the May Day forum would be practical and could draw in other groups and more people, while organizing something specifically socialist would be my ideal, but maybe draw fewer people (because it is abstract and because there might not be strong local organizations to sponsor it, definitely not Alliance, unfortunately).  July 23rd is the anniversary of the Downing Street Minutes and should be marked by the Grass Roots Impeachment Movement and there will probably be a town meeting on impeachment somewhere in the Triangle for July.  I'm sure the Orange County and Durham Bill of Rights Defense Committees will have actions for July 4th.  Close before July 4th will be the Southeast Social Forum at NCCU in late June.