Wednesday, July 19, 2017

PPP Struggles for TUC Freedom - Cheddi Jagan PPP of Guyana 1985

Vintage Leftist Leaflet Project

See the end of this post for details on the project.

Leaflet: PPP Struggles for TUC Freedom - Cheddi Jagan PPP of Guyana 1985

Recently we looked at a Guyanese People's Progressive Party leaflet written by its General Secretary -- and a pivotal figure in Guyana's history -- Cheddi Jagan, "The Truth About Bauxite Nationalisation"

Today we are looking at another PPP/Jagan leaflet,this one from 1985, "PPP Struggles for TUC Freedom"

"This booklet consists of aspects of the struggle of the People's Progressive Party to strengthen the trade union movement in Guyana; and to put the Trades Union Congress on a sound and militant footing where it unswervingly defends the workers' rights."

One highlight: "It is essential not merely to transfer ownership of the means of production (factories, land, machines, tools, etc.) from foreign-private to state, but also to change the relations of production with the aim of making socialist production relations predominant. Economic growth and nationalisation alone do not mean socialism. Although a certain level of economic development is a prerequisite for socialism it is not its content. Socialism is a class and political concept; its essence consists in the socialisation of the basic means of production, distribution and exchange and the establishment of the rule of the working people." 

(Click on images to enlarge)

























When The Left Chapter began part of what I wanted to do on the blog was to show and highlight vintage public leftist election/political leaflets and booklets. While many of these have been offered with commentary to date, a very large collection of hundreds of them from several different sources remains and to preserve these often quite rare documents we will be posting them on a regular (almost daily) basis now often without or with minimal commentary so that people may have access to them as quickly as possible as an historical resource. 

While these will all be leaflets from a variety of different leftist viewpoints and countries, they are being posted as an historical/study resource and the views or opinions expressed in them do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or blogger.

All of these posts (as well as posts made to date) will be listed on the page: Vintage Communist/Socialist Leaflets (which is still being updated with past posts).


If you have any public, vintage leaflets or booklets you would like to contribute to this project please contact us via theleftchapter@outlook.com

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Conundrum: Niki Ashton and the NDP leadership campaign


Given the truly inspiring turn of events within the Labour Party in the UK under Corbyn over the last couple of years it is not at all surprising that leftists in Canada are hoping that perhaps these conditions can be recreated here and within the country's mainstream social democratic party the NDP.


With the examples of Corbyn and also, allegedly, of Sanders in the United States, some have even gone so far as to state, as in the case of Rick Salutin "Forget about starting new left-wing parties. You can actually work within corrupt cadavers like Labour and the Democrats, aspire to take them over, and move on to power. I’d never have believed it but the evidence is there."

Except, of course, the "evidence" is not really there at all, a point to which we will return. This is even setting aside the fact that the "evidence", such as it is, entirely ignores what is occurring in Western European countries outside of the UK as well as ignoring what is happening right here in Quebec, where it has been completely due to the creation and emergence of new parties that we witnessed a revival of a socialist and communist left.

For now, though, what is left of the NDP's left is coalescing around the interesting campaign of Niki Ashton. This includes a variety of formations from the newly minted Momentum to the entryist Fightback. Meanwhile, yet another grouping called 'Courage' has been added to this mix that also comprises the long-standing Socialist Caucus. (While Momentum and Forward have endorsed Ashton, to date Courage and the Socialist Caucus have not.)

Historically formations of this type within the NDP have been anything but effective and there is little to indicate that this is changing.

Ashton did not (unlike Corbyn) come from any dissident activist thread within the party and is not the actual candidate (other than by the endorsement of some) of any of these groups. In fact, initially two of the groups actively tried to recruit a different candidate, Sid Ryan, and did so after Ashton had already announced.

Unlike both Sanders (who was not even a Democrat until his run for the nomination) or Corbyn she was an uncritical member of the caucuses of her leaders Mulcair and Layton as they shifted the party to the right and she went along with any number of Third Way and Blairite positions from the catastrophic Libya intervention to the ludicrously reactionary balanced budget pledge without saying anything about them at the time.

If we are to be told that she had no choice but to do this then really that says a great deal about the undemocratic and insular nature of the NDP none of which is good. Will she have no choice again should she lose?

Her first campaign for the leadership in 2012 showed little of the leftism of this one which does leave one wondering if it is in its own way opportunistic. While she speaks in terms of building a 'movement' now she has not made it at all clear that she would continue to fight for the leftist positions within the party should she lose and has, like Sanders did within the Democrats, essentially promised to get totally on board with the new leader in that self-defeating faux-collegial way New Democrats always do. We also have to take her at her implied word that she will re-democratize a party that has been run completely from the top down.

In must be noted that largely due to a relatively unfair and somewhat rigged system, Sanders did not actually achieve anything like what Corbyn did, the Democrats have not shifted left, Sanders has now integrated himself into the upper leadership of a dreadfully right-wing and stridently Wall St party and by doing so has led his "revolution" to dissipation and defeat. The notion that the Democrats in the US are going to become a vehicle for leftist or socialist change and that the "evidence" -- as cited supposedly by Salutin -- is there that this can or will occur is the purest tilting at windmills and farcically idealistic and not in the good sense of the term. It would seem that Sanders' very attempt to work within the Democratic Party has fatally undermined all that he originally was ostensibly fighting for.

Sanders has squandered the energy and enthusiasm of his campaign that would have been much better spent trying to construct a new political formation with other parties and movements. Sanders' campaign is a lesson to Canadian leftists, but not in the way it is generally represented.

In the case of Labour even during the Third Way era it remained relatively democratic compared to the NDP and, more to the point, had open and overt dissenters within its caucus and Corbyn was one of those. He also built a genuine movement during his leadership run (Momentum) that would have carried on even had he lost initially. His campaign was not simply about him winning-- he was not expected to win by anyone -- even though he ultimately did.

Nothing remotely analogous to this is occurring within Ashton's campaign to date. Unlike either Sanders or Corbyn, Ashton has not generated anything like the mass enthusiasm (as evidenced by huge rallies, a penetration into popular consciousness, etc.) among the broader public that was not simply essential to their respective phenomena but is also crucial to the very basis of a long term anti-capitalist project. In part this has to be because she does not even appear to be really attempting to do this.

All of this means that like Sanders this is less a 'movement' than a social democratic version of what used to be called a cult of personality, only a not terribly effective one outside of the confines of leftist activists. As long as Ashton is running the inorganic "movement" she personifies exists. The second she loses, if she does, it will cease to.

Many of us predicted it would with Sanders. It seems likely to in Ashton's case as well.

I think it is also reasonable to say that leftists outside of the party are being asked to take a "leap of faith" and to rejoin a party that has been more directly harmful to the socialist idea in this country than any other in the last few years as it has directly repudiated its very connection historically with even a cursory anti-capitalist stance.

It can, of course, be argued that it has been so for many years, but by taking such steps as removing the very word from the constitution and running on explicitly Third Way platforms as both Layton and Mulcair did the party has become a liberal party in every meaningful sense of the term. The silly slogans or rantings of some of the NDP's more demented partisans to the contrary, any resemblance between the NDP and a socialist party is purely in their own minds.

This leaves us with a serious conundrum. Given that Ashton is the only candidate to have even rhetorically embraced an anti-capitalist narrative and given the limitations of both this narrative and her campaign to what degree does this represent a serious opportunity and to what degree is this simply another possible detour?

The trouble is the real danger that we are encouraging people to mimic an already existing approach in Canada's case that has failed since the 70s and even more so since the victory of Layton which some at the time foolishly saw as a victory for the party's left (it was quite the opposite). This strategy would have us simply go along with the new leader whoever it is for the foreseeable future should Ashton's bid fall short and pretend that this is somehow part of trying to create a "socialist" movement.

What events in the US, the UK, France and elsewhere have shown us is that the collaborationist 'social democracy' and liberalism of Blair and the French Socialist Party, etc., is collapsing due to its internal contradictions and bankruptcy and that candidates running on left platforms in general elections can win. But they have not at all shown us that the parties that were the vehicles for this Third Way bankruptcy can be vehicles for its overturn in conditions as varied as Canada is from the UK.

As long as Ashton' s campaign exists there is at least something of an argument to temporarily join the NDP to support her and see where it leads.

But when and if it fails this argument is gone and becomes but a new echo of an old and tired refrain that serves as little more than an excuse to not organize something that could be a vehicle that would actually represent an anti-capitalist electoral political path forward.

Other Readings: Resolutionary Socialism: Why a leftist agenda within the NDP is futile

See also: Niki Ashton releases strongest Canadian federal social democratic tax platform in a generation

See also: Saskatoon NDP debate sees testy exchanges and a strong outing from Angus

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Postcard Trip to a Soviet Circus

Today we are looking at a small folder of postcards that I came across at a church sale. Likely from the 1970s (though they are undated) they are of Soviet circus performers at work.

The circus was hugely popular in the Soviet Union. As Wikipedia notes in their history of the Moscow State Circus, "Officials considered the circus to be culturally on par with the Ballets Russes or Tchaikovsky, but was much more affordable, and therefore more proletarian, at only about five dollars per ticket. The Soyuzgoscirk established seventy circus buildings across the USSR, and entire towns would turn out to see the shows."

You can pay a visit to one of these buildings -- sadly now abandoned -- in Moldova and learn about its history and more about the history of the Soviet Circus in "Sneaking into an Abandoned Soviet Circus in Moldova".

(Click on image to enlarge)














Sunday, July 16, 2017

Venezuela, Omar Khadr, Climate Change & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List July 9 - 16


This week's list of articles, news items and opinion pieces that I see as must reads if you are looking for a roundup that should be of interest to The Left Chapter readers.




This list covers the week of  July 9 - 16. It is generally in order of the date of the article's release.

1) The Uninhabitable Earth

David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine

Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.

Read the full article.

2) Venus Williams, a Car Accident, and the Outrageous Police Response

Dave Zirin, The Nation

The tennis legend was publicly blamed for a man’s death, only to be exonerated thanks to TMZ. Something is wrong with this picture.

Read the full article.

3) Is social democracy facing extinction in Europe?

Davide Vittori, LSE Blog

One of the more surprising aspects of Labour’s strong performance in the UK’s general election is that it came at a time when social democratic parties have experienced falling support in other countries across Europe. Davide Vittori asks whether the exceptionally poor results of parties such as the French Socialist Party in recent elections herald the end of social democracy as we know it in Europe.

Read the full article.

4) Honouring the history and heritage of socialist ideals at The Durham Miners’ Gala

Alan Cummings, Morning Star

The Durham miners never gave up on their socialist principles – principles that are now reinvigorated in the era of Corbynism.

Read the full article.

5) Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says

Tess Riley, The Guardian

Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report.

Read the full article.

6) How many died in the Grenfell tower fire? Anger rises as London police won’t say for sure

Rod Nordland & Iliana Magra, The Toronto Star

More than three weeks after the deadly fire, survivors and their advocates are convinced that the authorities have yet to publicly acknowledge the true death toll.

Read the full article.

7) The ‘odious’ logic behind opposition to Khadr’s compensation

Azeezah Kanji, The Toronto Star

There are many things in Omar Khadr’s story that merit denunciation, but the fact that he has finally received some justice is not one of them.

Read the full article.

8) Omar Khadr and the Shame of the Canadian Press 

Omer Aziz, The Walrus

Anger over the settlement has never been about law or even policy. It’s about how we see the crimes of people who do not look like us.

Read the full article.

9) Are we finally realising that Macron isn’t that liberal after all?

Nabila Ramdani, The Independent

Social media lynchings are as hyperbolic as they sound, but Emmanuel Macron got all the metaphorical violence he deserved when he suggested that poor African women have too many babies. The newly elected French President used a press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg to say that wanton reproduction often made foreign aid pointless.

Read the full article.

10) Manitoba families want national MMIWG inquiry commissioners replaced, regional inquiry created

CBC News

A coalition of Manitoba families says the commissioners on the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls have become ineffective and must resign.

Read the full article.

11) Betsy DeVos Plans to Consult Men’s Rights Trolls About Campus Sexual Assault

Christina Cauterucci, Slate

When Trump nominated Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education, anti-rape advocates worried about the damage she might do. The Obama administration had pushed universities to better address sexual assault on their campuses, prescribing stricter guidelines for adjudicating accusations and publishing lists of schools under investigation. DeVos refused to say whether or not she’d uphold that guidance, but the prospects looked grim. She and her family foundation had both donated money to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an advocacy group working to undo the progress Obama’s Department of Education had made on campus sexual assault.

Read the full article.

12) Confused about universality? So are NDP leadership candidates

 Michal Rozworski, Political Eh-conomy Blog

There was some pretty confused stuff on universality and means-testing during last night’s NDP leadership debate. Here are some thoughts that might help clear things up.

Read the full article.

13) Why are women who have escaped prostitution still viewed as criminals?

Julie Bindel, The Guardian

Women who have got out of the sex trade dread criminal record checks when they go for jobs. But now there’s a chance those records could be expunged.

Read the full article.

14) Five CSIS employees are accusing the spy agency of Islamophobia, racism and homophobia in a $35-million lawsuit

Michelle Shephard, The Toronto Star

“Careful your Muslim in-laws don’t behead you in your sleep for being homo,” a CSIS manager allegedly wrote in a 2015 email to an intelligence officer, one of several shocking incidents outlined in a statement of claim obtained by the Star.

Read the full article.

15) CMHC tells Ontario housing co-ops to abandon low-income members

Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada  

Multi-million dollar renovation plans at three Ontario housing co-ops are in limbo after receiving government demands to cancel rental assistance to low-income families.

Read the full article.

16) Sears managers to earn thousands in bonuses while laid-off workers get no severance

Sophia Harris, CBC News

Sears Canada plans to dole out big bonuses to senior management while the retailer restructures, even as thousands of laid-off workers aren't being paid severance.

Read the full article.

17) Insiders speak out on 'dysfunctional' missing, murdered Indigenous women inquiry

Maura Forrest, The National Post

As concerns mount about the future of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, sources who were inside the inquiry are speaking out about what they see as its “rudderless” operation and a chief commissioner who they say is misrepresenting recent high-profile staff resignations.

Read the full article.

18) Meet Red Opera, the local rapper who ran for the Communist Party of Canada

Stephanie Johns, The Coast


Released on Canada Day, Ryan Barry's (AKA Red Opera) Lifestyles of the Bourgeoisie was meant to make a political statement. The rapper, who has been performing on and off in Halifax since 1998 including releasing group albums under the name Tranz Ill, dipped his toes back into the music world with this collection. When not writing about the uneven political climate, Barry remains politically involved, running in the 2015 federal election in the South Shore St. Margaret's riding for the Communist Party of Canada. Listen to his latest offering and let Red Opera put a bug in your ear. 

Read the full article.

19) 2 Ontario police officers charged in death of Indigenous woman

Chris Ensing, CBC News

Two police officers have been charged in the 2016 death of Debra Chrisjohn, of Oneida Nation of the Thames, according to Ontario's police watchdog.

Read the full article.

20) Jacobin magazine attacks Venezuela, Cuba and TeleSUR

Jordan Woll, Liberation

Right wing opposition sympathizers in Venezuela are on social media, as always decrying so-called government “repression” while obscuring the real motivations behind the effort to bring about regime change in Venezuela. Such online propaganda campaigns are nothing new. What is new is that in recent weeks, they have been citing the “socialist” U.S.-based magazine Jacobin. How could this be?

Read the full article.

21) Why Can't the US Left Get Venezuela Right?

Shamus Cooke, Venezuela Analysis

As Venezuela's fascist-minded oligarchy conspires with U.S. imperialism to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro, few in the U.S. seem to care.

Instead of denouncing rightwing violence that aims at regime change, many on the U.S. left have stayed silent, or opted to give an evenhanded analysis that supports neither the Maduro government nor the oligarchy trying to violently overthrow it. Rather, the left prioritizes its energy on lecturing on Maduro’s “authoritarianism” and the failures of “Chavismo.”  

This approach allows leftists a cool emotional detachment to the fate of the poor in Venezuela, and clean hands that would otherwise be soiled by engaging with the messy, real life class struggle that is the Venezuelan revolution.

Read the full article.

22) Nordic Parliamentarians Slam Right-Wing Venezuela Violence

Telesur

Dozens of parliamentarians from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland have launched a declaration calling on the international community to reject ongoing right-wing violence in Venezuela, which has since claimed at least 94 lives.

Read the full article.

There are also two articles from prior to the period that we missed that are being included.

23) We Need To Talk About Johnny Depp

Selene Nelson, The Huffington Post

Last week at Glastonbury Johnny Depp flippantly suggested assassinating President Donald Trump. The media erupted. The backlash was quick; so was Depp’s apology. But, tasteless jokes aside, this outraged reaction concealed some other significant news.

Read the full article.

24) Proud Boys toss around the shade in the Summer of White Male Grievance

Elizabeth Renzetti, The Globe and Mail


Certain summers are so eventful and singular that they are remembered by name long after. There was the Summer of Love, and at the other end of the fun spectrum, the Summer of Sam. This year is already promising to be one for the history books. I like to think of it as the Summer of White Male Grievance.

Read the full article.

See also: The Proud Boys, Omar Khadr and more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List July 2 - 9

See also: Canada 150, Basic Income, the Western Wall & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List June 25 - July 2

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Truth About Bauxite Nationalisation - Cheddi Jagan PPP of Guyana 1972

Vintage Leftist Leaflet Project

See the end of this post for details on the project.

Leaflet: The Truth About Bauxite Nationalisation - Cheddi Jagan PPP of Guyana 1972

Written by the late Cheddi Jagan, General Secretary of the People's Progressive Party of Guyana and one of the towering figures of Guyanese history, this leaflet that is a compilation of articles in the Mirror newspaper is interesting for a number of reasons.

First, it talks about Canadian imperialism and the contradictions between the interests of Canadian imperialism and capital and those of the United States. This serves as a reminder that Canada was always an integral part of the imperialist camp.

Second, it outlines in very effective form why nationalization does NOT equal socialism in anyway -- a common error such as when we see memes with slogans like (paraphrasing) "Hate Socialism? Then I guess you hate the post office and fire department" etc., that confuse services and corporations being public with being some nascent example of a socialist economy. 

Jagan notes that the type and intent of nationalization and even more the CONTEXT of nationalization vary considerably and that there are objective differences between capitalist and reformist nationalization and a genuinely socialist program of nationalization. 

(Click on scans to enlarge)











When The Left Chapter began part of what I wanted to do on the blog was to show and highlight vintage public leftist election/political leaflets and booklets. While many of these have been offered with commentary to date, a very large collection of hundreds of them from several different sources remains and to preserve these often quite rare documents we will be posting them on a regular (almost daily) basis now often without or with minimal commentary so that people may have access to them as quickly as possible as an historical resource. 

While these will all be leaflets from a variety of different leftist viewpoints and countries, they are being posted as an historical/study resource and the views or opinions expressed in them do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or blogger.

All of these posts (as well as posts made to date) will be listed on the page: Vintage Communist/Socialist Leaflets (which is still being updated with past posts).


If you have any public, vintage leaflets or booklets you would like to contribute to this project please contact us via theleftchapter@outlook.com