In my experience of living in America (Minnesota) for four years, I am shocked at how easily economics and foreign policy are left out of the daily political discussion. I recommend a thorough reading of this manifesto from a group called the People’s Congress of Resistance. Biggest difference from the Congress we know? It includes poor and working people.
Here is a summary I jotted down while watching four videos from the People’s Congress of Resistance Webinar on December 3rd. This is my way of sharing information I think is interesting (some things are written word for word as expressed by the speakers in the videos) and also letting you know where I stand on these issues.
Point 1—The Tax Reform, Brian Becker, nat’l director of ANSWER Coalition speaking:
- The tax reform is a tax break for corporations and rich people, justified by no economic theories
- The tax reform will create a 1.4 trillion dollar deficit (which is particularly ironic, considering Republicans have always vehemently opposed deficit spending)
- This deficit will “justify” future cuts in government spending on the poor and middle classes (tuition aid, health care subsidies, social security)
- Where are the Democrats? Have they rallied the working class? Have they brought millions of people to Washington? Have they helped provide the framework for opposing class warfare?
- Nope. Democrats are…still talking about Russia. Trump and Russia.
- The tax reform will also lead to a restructuring of the ACA by eliminating the individual mandate requirement, causing 13 million people to lose their health insurance
- After a year of Trump, it’s obvious what his deal is: to loot, plunder and pillage the national treasury and redistribute the wealth
- If Trump manages to push this reform through, it will create enough trust to bring a powerful onlooker into play: WALL STREET! Wall street banks and corporations, who have been skeptical of the Trump admin up until now, will turn around and embrace his programs, and Trump will have another side to his constituency
- Democrats are either silent or complicit in this
- The social movements tied to the Democratic party are passive, acting as spectators; they're focused mainly on the Russia collusion (but no shred of evidence for that yet)
- Unions have been generally silent
- So, we need to organize, inform, rally, make it known that there will actually be opposition to this class war started by the upper class/ruling class/capitalist class, despite the irrelevancy of the Democratic party
Point 2—Net Neutrality (Margaret Flowers from Popular Resistance speaking):
- Corporations shouldn’t be able to make people pay more to access certain places on the internet
- Why? We use Internet to meet our social needs and secure the means of life
- We use it to get jobs, get an education, sign up for health insurance, organize, create a citizen’s media (to reflect what is going on in communities when corporate media fails)
- In 2014 there was a hard won fight to reclassify the Internet as a Common Carrier. It had to go by the same rules as a public utility like electricity or water. This gave the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) the power to enforce access across the board, keep corporations from speeding up or slowing down different websites and dividing the Internet into diversely priced “packages”
- This is all subject to change on December 14th, as there will be a vote to undo Net Neutrality. This is because the chairman of the FCC, put in the position by Trump, is against it (notoriously against it—he voted against it in 2015)
- The response crosses the political spectrum—more than 700k people have called Congress to protest this happening
- You can call your representatives on this every day—we are now in the last days—do it before Thursday Dec 14th! There is also a plan for Dec 12th: check out battleforthenet.com
Point 3—No War with North Korea (anti-war activist John Prysner speaking):
- It now appears that North Korea has the power to hit any location in the US with a nuclear weapon, and the US is treating this news as a threat, with Trump&co reiterating “we are going to destroy North Korea”
- Who’s the real threat? US media portrays North Korea as testing missiles for provocation, but if you look at the timeline and intensity of tests, North Korea is absolutely dwarfed by the US
- US has so much power that other countries know that a first strike against US would be suicide
- First: understand the Korean War
- Leading up to it: Korea was brutally colonized by Japan 1910-1945, then Japan was defeated by a national liberation movement/WWII
- But a US condition for Japanese surrender was for Japanese troops to stay posted in South Korea until US troops relieved them (effectively replacing Japanese occupation with US occupation)
- Eventually war broke out between north and south Korea (US claimed North Korea incited, but it was an ongoing conflict)
- North Korea vs. South Korea (war approved by UN) saw the US committing a genocide campaign in defense of South Korea (they bombed indiscriminately for three years; a common pilot complaint was “there’s nothing left to bomb”)
- 20% or more of the population was killed
- In the end, US were unable to win, so they signed an armistice. An armistice is NOT a peace treaty. The US is still officially at war with North Korea.
- While North Korea is demonized and portrayed as a brainwashed police state (lots of lies and propaganda there), South Korea is portrayed as a western-style democracy, which is also misleading: until recently (1980s), it was a military dictatorship, until actual armed uprisings against brutal crackdowns led to democratization. But there are colonial hangovers, like a national security law where anyone suspected of anti-government activities can be detained with no due process or trial
- Recently, millions of South Koreans rallied for months in protest of pro-US president and successfully ousted him
- New president, however, is under so much pressure from US that he is going back on promises and actually increasing (instead of decreasing) THAAD, (which is supposed to be a missile defense system against North Korea, but is really a provocative move against China).
- No one wants troops in their towns! US military occupation (80 bases) in South Korea is resented. The bases inflame tension and increase pollution and crime.
- There are lots of ways for us to oppose US militarism and occupation, so let’s do it.
Crisis in Yemen, war in Middle East had audio issues, so here’s the written recap:
We also heard from anti-war organizer Joyce Chediac, who recently returned from the Middle East, and discussed the U.S.-Saudi efforts to instigate a wider regional war.
“With the Syria war winding down, there is more focus in the establishment media on the war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and the gulf states, all US clients, have been attacking and blockading Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, for 2 ½ years. More than 10,000 are dead mostly from indiscriminate bombardments; 130 children a day are dying from disease and hunger related to the bombing and blockade. There is mass hunger. The country is experiencing worst cholera epidemic ever recorded.
Media here portrays it as a regional conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, between Sunnis and Shias, as if this is endemic to the Middle East. This is not true.
Many Yeminis, including Sunnis, have supported the Houthis, who are Shia.
What is hidden by the media is that this is a US Saudi war. The US is directly involved, sometimes on a daily basis, as it refuels the Saudi-operated planes dropping the bombs so they don’t have to return to Saudi airfields and can more quickly return to bomb Yemen.
The US provides the intelligence for the targets. And all the weapons. And earlier this year, when visiting Riyadh, Donald Trump announced the single largest weapons deal in Washington history, some $350 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia over 10 years.
This makes this a US-Saudi war, with Washington complicit in every war crime being committed there. It is part of a US aggression against the whole region, and most pointedly now, against Iran, as the Saudis say their primary effort is to push back Iranian influence.
But clearly the first casualty is the people and sovereignty of Yemen. It is crucial to expose this US role, and to demand that the US tax money spent on bombs to drop on Yemeni children be used instead to build schools and hospitals and provide jobs at home.
What about Iran?
Trump claims Iran is a threat, but this country has no military bases outside its borders. The Pentagon, however has bases surrounding Iran. (See map)
Under present conditions in the Mideast, we must be on alert. The militarists suffered a setback in Syria, but they can be very aggressive after a defeat. There is a possibility of more Israeli bombings of Syria and Lebanon, of the announcement of an open alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia which would go against the will of all the Arab people, and be especially aimed at the Palestinian people, and of other predatory measures.”
Point 4—How to spread the manifesto (Nathalie Hrizi, San Francisco area educator speaking):
- Know your material: start with a reading group
- Find a location, set a date and time ( could be your home, a library, a cafe, etc)
- Promote: send texts/emails, post on social media, make posters, call guests (invite local activist group)
- Prepare: make copies of material or digital access, have a signup method, and a goal for the event
- Event: should be a collective education, not a class. Make introductions, read the material together (this will bring up lots of ideas and discussion). Make smaller groups if necessary, give people the right to pass on reading or talking, take turns talking, give everyone the chance to speak for a similar length of time; assume the role of facilitator as opposed to the main speaker
- Evaluation and follow-up: figure out what worked, what didn’t about the whole event: date/time/location ok? Promotion ok? Discussion equal among participants? Send thank you messages and build relationships for future organizing.
Posted on Mon, December 11, 2017
by Hilary Thavis