By Deirdre Griswold
For 60 years, the DPRK attempted to get the U.S. to sign a peace treaty that would end the state of war existing between the two countries since 1950. It also called for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Neither ever happened. Washington refused to even discuss the matter. The DPRK has now declared that the armistice agreement ending the 1950-53 shooting war is dead and that it will respond with strength if attacked.
While all this military activity is going on, massive government cutbacks in the United States speak to the back-breaking cost of this country’s military spending for previous interventions around the world. The trillions of dollars spent on building the world’s most destructive military machine have imposed a colossal debt burden on the people at home.
The only ones to benefit from this unending warfare are the military-industrial complex and the banks. The capitalist ruling class as a whole, which more and more seeks super-profits from abroad, bears the responsibility for turning the U.S. into a garrison state at odds with most of the world.
By Deirdre Griswold
The compromise on taxes only postpones the issue of the budget. In March, it will all come to a head again. There will be another “cliff,” with the most blatant lackeys of the super-rich saying that the government will grind to a halt unless major spending cuts are made.
So in March the same pressure will be on to find ways to steal funds from Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs so vital to the masses, in order to pay for the real function of the capitalist state.
And what is the state’s real function? It is to protect the interests of the ruling class. In the U.S., this means having the most expensive military force in the world in order to defend global capitalists’ exploitation of resources and labor, from the Middle East to Africa, Asia, Latin America, wherever there are superprofits to be made.
And, on the domestic side, it means spending vast sums to run the world’s largest system of prisons, police, courts and the deliberately misnamed “homeland security” system. It takes lots of money to maintain a racist, anti-worker injustice system that controls 7.3 million men and women — who are behind bars, on probation or on parole. This system of mass incarceration is also a source of profit for the privately owned prison-industrial complex, but the financial burden of the system remains on the state. Millionaires profit from it, but workers’ taxes have to pay for it.
Repression is the basic function of the capitalist state, as explained by Marx and Lenin. The state enforces the rule of a very tiny minority of people, the capitalist class, over the vast majority, the working class.
And today, these workers increasingly cannot find work, not just here but all over the capitalist world. So the budget crisis is an inevitable outcome of this era of jobless recovery, when the ability of capitalism to expand has come to a dead end.
The budget crisis can only be understood in this context.
The disaster known as Hurricane Sandy that hit the Caribbean, the United States and Canada at the end of October 2012 should have come as no surprise. Every possible warning sign had preceded it. For years, international conferences had been held at which scientists laid out the effects of global warming on the climate. What were once considered freakish weather events — torrential rains, severe droughts, more frequent and intense tornadoes and hurricanes — had become the new norm.
Yet, five days after the hurricane’s first blast, as this booklet is being compiled, millions are still without power. Besides those killed during Sandy’s initial blast and the huge surge of ocean water it drove onshore, more continue to die for lack of heat, access to medications, medical care and transportation, and other causes related to a nonfunctioning infrastructure.
How did we get to this perilous position?
The articles assembled here, which appeared in Workers World newspaper between 2001 and the present, tell the story. From the repudiation of the Kyoto Accords by President George W. Bush in 2001 to the U.N. Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio in June 2012, we cover what happened to undermine and make ineffectual the many attempts by world climate scientists to get international agreement on plans to cut back carbon dioxid emissions.
We have also reported on many disasters related to global warming that have wreaked havoc in this period, from Hurricane Katrina to floods and drought in Africa and the Midwest to tornadoes in the South and sizzling temperatures in Detroit’s auto plants.
These articles describe how government policy, particularly in the U.S., has been dictated by the highly profitable and powerful energy companies, whose clout is linked to the big banks and the Pentagon.
Like a red thread running through all this is our critique of capitalism as the ultimate cause of the planetary disaster known as global warming. It is not technology but the class interests that technology serves that determine whether our impact on the planet will be sustainable or not. With capitalism’s evolution into global imperialism, the problems it creates impact most severely on the pillaged nations of the global South.
Frederick Engels, Karl Marx’s closest collaborator, wrote in 1876: “Let us not … flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory it takes its revenge on us. Each of them, it is true, has in the first place the consequences on which we counted, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first.”
Engels wrote this during the early, tempestuous growth of industrial capital in Europe and the U.S., when huge fortunes were made exploiting labor in the mines, the steel mills and the newly electrified factories.
Today Marxism is an indispensable tool to understanding why capitalism is headed toward a train wreck and what must replace it. As protesters at the 2011 conference on climate change in Durban, South Africa, demanded: “Climate change? Social change!”
By Deirdre Griswold
The horrible, near-fatal shooting of a young Pakistani schoolgirl, reportedly by members of the Taliban, has focused world attention on the conflict between the armed Islamic group and Pakistani advocates of education for women. Malala Yousafzai, 14 years old, was shot in the head and neck while on a school bus, according to her classmates. She has been flown to Britain to receive medical attention for severe damage to her skull.
The daughter of a teacher, Yousafzai has been an outspoken advocate of schooling for girls since she was only 11, producing a blog and giving many interviews. She has gained worldwide attention and praise, especially from Western politicians and public figures. This is reportedly why she was singled out for attack.
Her family lives in the Swat valley area of Pakistan, a beautiful mountainous area that attracts many tourists. However, most of the people living there are very poor. Many sympathize with the Taliban, which has been resisting foreign intervention in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Until very recently, the Swat valley had a higher rate of literacy than the rest of Pakistan and there were many schools for girls. What has happened there to strengthen the influence of the Taliban, which takes an extremely reactionary position on women’s rights?
Perhaps my clearest understanding of the Red Terror came as I was leaving Ethiopia. In the airport, I noticed that the airline mechanics were so poor they didn’t even have shoes.
But once on board, I sat next to an elegantly dressed man who was going to Rome on a business trip. He was a buyer of spare parts for Ethiopian Airlines, one of the very few elite Ethiopians who not only could read and write but had been to college. As we left Africa behind, he began to talk more openly.
He would not be going back, he said, because of the Revolution. It was a terrible thing. The riffraff were taking over. Mengistu was nothing but a peasant. All the people of quality were leaving.
His own family had suffered from the Red Terror. His brother-in- law had been dragged from his house and beaten to death on the street by a mob.
What did your brother-in-law do, I asked. He was an important person, replied the passenger. He was a banker and a landlord.
— Deirdre Griswold, "Ethiopia: Can a revolution be put on trial?"
May 23, 1996 - Why is bourgeois opinion in the United States and other imperialist countries so set upon war crimes trials for the defeated former government leaders in Ethiopia, yet so anxious for “reconciliation” in Angola, Mozambique and South Africa?
If justice is the object, if grave crimes cannot go unpunished for fear of encouraging more in the future, then what better place to start demanding justice than the countries of southern Africa?
Wasn’t apartheid in South Africa a towering crime against humanity? Aren’t the beneficiaries of apartheid still enjoying ill-gotten gains while the Black majority still work for them and still live in deep poverty?
And for sheer volume of lives lost, what could top the genocide carried out in Mozambique by Renamo-the “rebel” army set up by South African and Rhodesian officers with U.S. financing? Or in Angola by Unita, a CIA operation from start to finish? These two mercenary armies killed hundreds of thousands in their attempt to defeat the liberation movements that toppled Portuguese colonial rule.
But no one is talking about any trials for these folks.
Rather, the U.S. government in particular is doing everything it can to ensure an abiding political and economic role for them, arguing that only through compromise can there be peace and stability.
It is quite the opposite with Ethiopia. There the defeated military government, or Derg, must be put in the dock, humiliated, broken and discredited before the Western imperialists and their media will be satisfied. Pressure to turn over Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam, head of the Derg, has been put on Zimbabwe, where he lives in exile.
Above all, revenge must be exacted for the period known as the Red Terror. The very term is enough to bring down an ocean of bourgeois outrage on the heads of the Ethiopian revolutionaries.