Shut Down the Empire! – the need for a new anti-war movement

FIST marches in the streets of D.C. to demand and end to all U.S. wars and aggression.

FIST marches in the streets of D.C. to demand and end to all U.S. wars and aggression.

The following statement was written by FIST and distributed at Spring Rising, an anti-war demonstration in Washington DC in March 2015. 

Shut Down the Empire!

Since its founding, the United States has been in a constant state of war, targeting indigenous nations, neighboring countries, or independent states thousands of miles away in a fight for one thing: profit, the life-blood of the system of capitalism.

Today, the US military maintains a presence in more than 150 countries with around 1,000 bases dotting every corner of the earth. The total US spending on war is over $1 trillion per year. Meanwhile, the endless attack on oppressed people and workers within the United States has intensified. Militarized racist police forces occupy poor Black and Brown neighborhoods, while Wall St. capitalists plan the wholesale destruction of public education and services.

The world will never be free from wars and exploitation while capitalism exists. The only way to peace in the long run is to destroy capitalism and build socialism, a society where people’s needs, rather than profit, are the fundamental basis of the social order.

Yet in the meantime, we need a path towards revolution. The anti-war movement has a crucial role to play in this, but not at its current level. We ask: can we forge a movement that really connects the endless war drive to these crises within the US? How can we defeat this racist, neoliberal capitalism at home and abroad?

The Pentagon: Wall St.’s Killing Machine

The United States is at war in Syria against two main targets. The US is bombing Syria primarily to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. More publicly, the US claims to be fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Yet their ultimate goal is not to stop ISIS. In fact, they need groups like ISIS to justify endless war.The goal of the US military brass and ruling class is regime change in Syria.

US imperialism caused the conditions which led to the creation of ISIS. The US war on Iraq started in 1990 and continues to some degree today. This is the greatest crime so far of the 21st century, leading to the death of over 3.3 million Iraqis since 1990, including 1.7 million women and children. All of this loss of life was for one reason: oil and profit.

Libya, formerly one of the most prosperous African countries, has been dragged backwards as well by the US and NATO’s aggressive bombing campaign starting March 19, 2011. This unnecessary aggression has caused the death of over 50,000 Libyans and a drastic decline in the living standard of the Libyan people, while US and European oil companies have gained control of the country’s oil resources and banks.

Yet oppression breeds resistance. Air strikes, sanctions, and ongoing occupation have created massive resistance in each country, just like in past wars in Vietnam, Korea, and virtually everywhere else under the gun of US imperialism. The people of Iraq, Syria, and Libya have proven that they will never accept neocolonial domination.

This is certainly true of the people of Palestine, where for generations millions of people have resisted the genocidal colonial settler regime of Israel. For us, ending US wars in the Middle East must also mean that the US ends its $3 billion in military aid to Israel.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, the US has supported a pro-fascist coup government as part of its attempt to weaken the strength of capitalist Russia. The reason for this proxy war? Profits for energy companies and banks, while furthering US domination of Europe and Russia.

Venezuela has been a major target of recent CIA campaigns to overthrow democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver turned leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. The campaign against the pro-socialist Bolivarian revolution is another chapter in Wall St.’s ugly history of violence against Latin America.

Again and again, no matter what the specific goals are — oil, regional control, land, resources — the role of the US military, CIA and contractors boils down to one thing: profit for US banks and corporations and the capitalist 1%.

Black and Brown Lives Matter – At home and Abroad

Now more than ever, we need an anti-war movement with a clear message, “No War on Black and Brown people, from Ferguson to Iraq!” The US military and its servants have never liberated anyone. Similarly, police violence in our own communities, based historically on repressing slaves and workers, serves only to maintain the oppression of people of color and poor people.

We want the people of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine and everywhere else to have genuine democracy and self-determination, without the interference of the US. We want the people of Ferguson, Detroit, Oakland, as well as indigenous nations and immigrants, all to have control over their communities and their lives, free from the profit motives of Wall St.

When we examine the US military industrial complex and police, we see that it is the very same state oppresses people both here and abroad. This government locks up over 2 million people in prisons and jails, which serve effectively as internment camps for the poorest people, victims of a race and class based war. This same US military industrial complex is the largest polluter in the entire world, threatening the existence of humanity.

Yet in Ferguson, in New York, in Wisconsin, and in cities across the US, the strongest movement against this racist empire have developed in the belly of the beast. The call, “Black Lives Matter,” is in staunch opposition to the racist history of the US, whose foundation and world dominance are based on the theft and persecution of Black lives and Black labor.

At this time, the forces opposing US imperialism’s drive for world conquest are weakest inside the US. While the people of Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and Libya suffer, our movement against war has dwindled. Yet the conditions for resistance continue, and have become increasingly more desperate.

Its time for an awakened, more unified anti-war movement to rise to the occasion, to reach out to workers, people of color, youth, LGBTQ people and every sector of society with clear ideas for moving the struggle forward. It is time for more action, more organizing, and more educating on the role of US military and police in defending the profits of the billionaires. Our path towards overthrowing capitalism and building a socialist world depends on our ability to connect and build a massive anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist movement in the belly of the beast.

Lets get to work! End All US wars Now!

Leslie Feinberg: Transgender Warrior & Communist Revolutionary

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Feinberg at a queer anti-war forum in 2004.

Note: While Leslie at one time expressed a preference for ze/hir pronouns, this changed later in life. Her obituary, drafted jointly by Leslie and her partner Minne Bruce Pratt while at Leslie’s bedside, uses the pronouns she and her. We respect the choice of these pronouns in this article.

Leslie Feinberg, known around the world as a pioneer of trans liberation and author of “Stone Butch Blues,” died in November 2014. Her final words, “Hasten the revolution! Remember me as a revolutionary communist!” revealed a side of her life that fewer knew about, but which was no less integral to the person Leslie was.

In theory and practice, Feinberg embodied the idea of intersectionality before it really entered political discourse, making explicit the connections between LGBTQ oppression, racism, zionism, and capitalism.

Stone Butch Blues, Feinberg’s most famous work, is a tale of the life of a trans person before the trans movement, but it is also a story of the bone-deep pain that working class people face in the fight to survive. Her practical activism was more frequently anti-racist in character than anything else, from defending the Palestinian right of self-determination and return in 1968 in Buffalo, NY, to standing against racist segregation in Boston in 1974, and organizing to stop the Klan in Atlanta in 1988. For more than 40 years, she organized with Workers World Party, a revolutionary socialist party organization.

At a time when Pride Parades are becoming more and more corporate, when the media constantly allow rich, white, gay men to speak for all people oppressed for their gender or sexuality, when racist, apartheid Israel is “pink-washed” into a gay and lesbian paradise (just not for Palestinian LGBTQ people), Leslie’s theoretical contributions to the LGBTQ movement and to Marxism are more needed than ever.

In 1993, Feinberg gave voice to an emerging movement with the book “Trans Liberation,” offering the first Marxist historical analysis of the concept of trans identities. She showed with historical examples that trans people were not some new phenomenon, but rather that a multitude of genders and sexualities have existed throughout all human societies. Trans is not unnatural: what is unnatural is its oppression and repression, a relatively recent phenomenon. Drawing on Friedrich Engel’s “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State” and Workers World Party member Bob McCubbin’s work “The Roots of Lesbian and Gay Oppression,” Leslie showed the deep connections between class society, heterosexism, and trans oppression.

In later years, Leslie wrote an extensive series of articles entitled “Lavender & Red” which explored the links between socialism LGBTQ history. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the struggle of working-class LGBTQ people, and is full of rich historical lessons for our movements. The series can be found at this web address: workers.org/lavender-red.

Particularly inspiring was her 2012 defense of CeCe McDonald, a Black transwoman jailed for defending herself against racist violence. As the multiple tick-borne illnesses which would eventually take her life entered into advanced stages, Feinberg was increasingly confined to home or medical institutions. However, even in this weakened state, she took a stand for McDonald, and was arrested while protesting her incarceration.

While her death represents a great loss for the communist and LGBTQ movements, we in FIST plan to carry on the struggles that Leslie dedicated her life to. FIST will be studying Feinberg’s writings, learning from her activism, and most importantly, dedicating ourselves to the fight against imperialism, racism, and LGBTQ oppression.

¡Leslie Feinberg Presente!

Resistance from the Center of Imperialism – Colleen Davidson

Colleen-Podium

Based on remarks given by Colleen Davidson at a gathering of the Socialist Student Front of Bangladesh.

My name is Colleen Davidson, I want to say that I’m very inspired by everything I’ve seen here so far and everything I’ve heard about the Socialist Party of Bangladesh and the Socialist Student Front.

In 2011 the US was swept by a wave of spontaneous uprisings. In Wisconsin public employees occupied the state capitol building to demand their right to collective bargaining and union representation. When Troy Davis, an African-American who was obviously innocent was executed by the state of Georgia, there were massive protests. Then in September, young people occupied Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street, in what became known as “Occupy Wall Street.” (more…)

Spring Rising: March against Endless US War with FIST in DC, March 21

FIST is proud to be a co-sponsor of Spring Rising, an Anti-war Intervention in DC on March 21 in Washington DC. We will be mobilizing young people from Baltimore, New York, North Carolina, Philadelphia and beyond to march against the endless US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and countless more.

March 21 is the 12 year anniversary of the second US bombing campaign in the criminal US war against the people of Iraq, which has killed over 3 million people since 1990. March 19 is the four year anniversary of the US and NATO intervention in Libya, which dropped over 30,000 bombs on the people of Libya, causing massive death and a dramatic drop in the life expectancy of the people of Libya. In preparation for this event, FIST is working on a further analysis of the anti-war movement in this period, along with the need for a militant anti-way youth resistance, which will be coming soon.

The only thing that will stop these endless US wars is mass resistance from working class and oppressed people across the world. The future of the world depends on whether we can build a massive movement to shut down US imperialism.

If you would like to join us in DC, or if you need help with transportation, we need to hear from you.  

 

spring rising

“Spring Rising” is four days of creative resistance; theater, teach-ins; rallies and marches marking the anniversary of the United States’ “shock and awe” attack on Iraq and its invasion and occupation in a completely illegitimate, immoral war.  Together we will use this time to oppose the plans and calls for growing military intervention.

As we send this invitation to you the Congress is calling for more war. The President has just told us a new global “war on terror” may be unlimited in space and time.

  • Are you, like us, stunned and enraged by more war on the world?
  • Did you or your organization join in the protests against police violence and murder, because Black Lives Matter?
  • Are you with the Dreamers working for rights for all people to live without fear?
  • Are you one of the many who have dropped everything to protest the global destruction of the environment because of our dependence on fossil fuels which is also a reason for our wars?
  • Are you agonized over the ongoing U.S. military support for Israel, the recent killing of 2,000 Arab men, women, and children last summer in Gaza?
  • Are you furious about the killing and terrorizing of Muslims in the U.S?

Then, join us! Your participation in Spring Rising is urgently needed now to organize protests, participate in teach-ins and to put your art and performance on mass display. Together we can create the vibrant resistance needed to show that terrorizing the world is not in our interest and “not in our name.”

These days together will be vitally important for building the movement we need to oppose war and the violence and oppression of empire at home and abroad.

Schedule of Events

This nonviolent intervention was originally proposed by Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox and the Soapbox People’s Network. It has been endorsed and will be supported by Amnesty International Charlottesville, the ANSWER CoalitionAntiwar.com, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Baltimore Pledge of ResistanceCenter on Conscience & War, Washington, DCBrooklyn for PeaceBrainerd Area Coalition for Peace (BACP),  Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War,  Citizens for Peace,  CND CYMRU,  CODEPINK, Courage to ResistFISTDC Metro Science for the PeopleDefending Dissent Foundation,  Frack Free Nation, the Granny Peace Brigade of New York CityInternational Action Center,  KnowDrones.comMaryland United for Peace and Justice,Metro DC Committee of Correspondence for Democracy and Ecosocialism, Labor Fightback Network,  Military Families Speak OutMinnesota Peace ActionNational Association Against Police Brutality, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Ohio State Labor Party, the Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and WarfareThe No Fear Coalition, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation,   Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore,  Peace Action in Staten Island, Peace Academy at LibertyPAX Christi USA,  Peace Action MontgomeryPeopleNow.orgPeace Fresno, Popular Resistance, Progressive Democrats of America,   Revolutionary Organization of Labor USA,  SOA Watch, Syracuse Peace CouncilUnited for Peace and Justice,  United National Antiwar CoalitionUpstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars,  US Foreign Policy Activist CooperativeVegans for NonviolenceUS Labor Against the WarVeterans For PeaceVirginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, Voices for Creative Non-ViolenceWarIsACrime.org,  Washington Peace Center, Witness Against TortureWomen”s International League for Peace and Freedom,  World Beyond War, and World Can’t WaitPax Christi Phoenix

To endorse, volunteer, get involved or learn more, go to: SpringRising.org 866 973 4463
Join and share the Facebook event

FIST in Russia in Solidarity with the Anti-fascist Resistance in Ukraine

Below is speech by Detroit FIST organizer Tom Michalak’s that was made at the Anti-Globalization Conference in Moscow on February 24th. He spoke on the history of NATO, its neo-colonial character, its advancement eastward following the overthrow of the USSR, the US/EU-backed coup in Ukraine, and the struggle between the various political forces within the Ukrainian junta:

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Anti-fascist protest in Moscow on Feb 24 against further NATO aggression
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Tom Michalak speaking at the Anti-Globalization Conference on February 24
‘Brothers and Sisters,

It is truly an honor and a privilege to come from my home in Detroit, USA, to speak to you all today. This year as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of military and political defeat of German nazism at the hands of the various brave peoples of what was then the USSR. We also have passed the one-year anniversary of the US/EU-backed coup in Ukraine and the ouster of elected president Viktor Yanukovych.

I first met Joe Iosbaker last year at an anti-war conference in Chicago last year put on jointly by Workers World Party, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Fight Imperialism – Stand Together, and the American Party of Labor. I was bussed in from Detroit to help provide security, because leading up to the event, the organizers received threats from the local ultra-nationalists in the Ukrainian community, many having immigrated to the US after the defeat of nazism in 1945. The fascists surrounded the building, numbering from 40-50. They pounded on the doors attempting to break in, blasting the Ukrainian anthem on speakers, waving the UPA battleflag, and wearing matching blue shirts with the Ukrainian trident. Some had infiltrated the meeting before we shut the doors, and they had to be removed by force, which I was proud to have had a hand in. Fascism is not only a problem on Russia’s doorstep but on the contrary, it is a world problem.

As I speak to you now, the heroic resistance to the fascist junta in Kiev are making incredible gains in Donbass, after surrounding an estimated 6,000-7,500 US-equipt Ukrainian soldiers. Forces associated with the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics have reached Mariupol and have captured Debaltseve, despite the the weapons provided and the threats made by the NATO imperialists. NATO, chiefly the US, has shown that there is no corner of the world in which they are not prepared to unleash hell on earth wherever their interests are at stake, whether it be in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya.

What we are facing today is the re-emergence of classical 20th century nazism the likes of which we have not seen since the commencement of the Second World War. Vladimir Lenin said that “Imperialism is capitalism in decay”, and fascism provides an unfettered vehicle for imperialist expansion and domestic reaction to cope with the crumbling, exploitative system which is standing on its last legs. The global capitalist crisis of 2007-08 has sown the seeds for the brutal, unmasking of capitalist rule all around the world. With this crisis, the status quo is impossible to maintain. Two things are currently emerging out of the degenerate capitalist system and its crisis: a rise in class consciousness among the exploited and oppressed, as well as the re-emergence of fascist politics. Regardless of which forces grow in strength the most effectively, one thing remains true: the political center will disintegrate into the camps of the progressive masses or the exploiters and oppressors clinging to power.

NATO represents the political and military wing of western imperialism. It is the successor to the old colonial empires who competed among themselves for influence, land, and resources. Under the umbrella of NATO, former imperial rivals are united under the direction of the main imperial force in the world today, the US. While the old age of direct colonial rule of nations is over, indirect rule of the people and resources of other countries is as indispensable to the profits of the predatory capitalist classes who are at the reigns of oppressor nations. In distinction to Pax Britannica, oppressed nations are largely able to maintain their own flag, territory, and have their own leaders indigenous to their land. Neo-colonialism differs from the old way, but it is a change of form and not of essence. In essence, the immense wealth of the world is concentrated in the hands of a few vultures and the masses of the world are in dire poverty.

The overthrow of the USSR and socialism in eastern Europe provided a great opportunity to fill the power vacuum left where the Warsaw Pact once stood as a bulwark to imperialist advancement. With no force in the region to check NATO’s power, they were able to expand eastward with little resistance. This drive eastward was kicked off with the systematic dissolution and bombing of Yugoslavia, one of the last remaining independent nations still with a semblance of socialist property relations. Among many so-called “leftists” and “anti-imperialists” in the NATO orbit, the attack on Yugoslavia was something they viewed as necessary and worthy of their support. The ideological confusion among western “progressives” left in the wake of the overthrow of the oldest existing socialist state paved the way for a war waged on the people of a European state, the geographical expansion eastward of NATO, as well as the emboldenment of the west to intensify their grip on the peoples of what some refer to as the Global South and the “Third World.”

The coup in Ukraine has ushered in a new period in Europe as well as the world at large in the sense that it is bringing the worst elements of European society out from the depths of the sewer into the public eye. Not only this, but the main powers in the NATO sphere (namely the US, Canada, UK, and the whole of the EU) shamelessly obscure the character of the new Ukrainian government and provide it with a cover of legitimacy in the name of combating “Russian expansionism”. CNN, BBC, NPR, and the western propaganda apparatus as a whole, for the last year has scarcely mentioned the role of openly-fascist organizations as Pravy Sektor, Svoboda, or the Azov battalion. In fact, in VICE news’ horrendous coverage of the coup in Ukraine they interview someone clearly associated with Pravy Sektor who sported the black and red UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) flag associated with Stepan Bandera (historic Nazi supporter), helmet, and mask. In the interview, he was referred to simply as an “activist.”

There are many who consider themselves anti-imperialists who are in lockstep with the NATO imperialists, placing blame entirely on Russia. They say that the fascist parties make up a slim minority in the Ukrainian government and that groups like Pravy Sektor were merely a fringe on the ground during the Maidan. Of course this is true, for even in the infamous leaked phone call in which Ukraine’s new leaders were hand-picked between assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, and Ukrainian ambassador, Geoffrey Pyatt, the leader of ultra-nationalist Party Svoboda, Oleh Tyahnybok, was not appointed as head of government. In the conversation she said of Tyahnybok, to “let him stay out and do his political homework”. The fascist elements do currently however hold most key positions in matters of police and national security. On top of this, right-wing gangs patrolling the streets of junta controlled Ukraine dealing out extralegal beatings and murder is not an uncommon phenomena in junta controlled Ukraine. I say this to highlight the struggle within the right-wing Ukrainian regime itself between forces explicitly loyal to the demands of US such as Yatsenyuk, Poroshenko, and others as opposed to hardline nazis such as Dmitri Yarosh.

From the beginning, it was the militants of Pravy Sektor who physically pushed Yanukovych out of office. Today, it is the fascist volunteer battalions such as Azov and the Pravy Sektor-organized National Guard who are the most willing to carry out the so-called “Anti-terror” operation. The threats made by the fascists early last year for the resignation of Interior Minister Avakov, the death of nationalist militant Sasha Bilyi, and the recent declaration of Pravy Sektor that they will carry out their assault on Donbass regardless of any agreement reached by Poroshenko’s government only highlight the struggle between the two main elements of the junta. As time goes on these contradictions will only deepen, and one side or the other will prevail, as they cannot coexist in perpetuity. There are many who anticipate a second Maidan in the coming spring lead entirely by the fascist elements, feeding on the discontent of deterioration of conditions that are a result of the coup the fascists helped to create, and channeling that potentially revolutionary energy into counter-revolutionary despair.

The defeat of these elements is of the utmost importance to progressive forces around the world, and Europe in particular. A victory for nazism in Ukraine emboldens the nazis such as Golden Dawn in Greece, English Defense League, and others. A defeat for nazism on the other hand, is a victory for those who seek a world without racism, poverty, and war.

The mothers, grandmothers, fathers, and grandfathers of the present day anti-fascist resistance defeated Hitlerite nazism once before. The will of the people is an unstoppable force, and people organized in a resistance will fight with their teeth if necessary to protect their homes and lives against unrestrained barbarism.

Victory to the heroes of Novorossia! Victory to the global working class!’

FIST youth say — ‘Occupy Madison! Shut RTW down!’

by Heath Ginnar Tschetter

Feb 28, 2015

Photo: Jennica Stein

Thousands pack the Wisconsin capitol to defeat so-called “Right to Work” Laws. Photo by Jennica Stein.

Madison, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker and Senate Republicans shoved through right-to-work (-for-less) legislation on Feb. 26 following a day of worker resistance in Wisconsin’s capital. This legislation would greatly reduce the living standards as well as workers’ representation in the workplace here, just as it has done in every state where RTW has been implemented. RTW states are well known to be low-wage states with deep histories of racism and discrimination.

Union leaders and supporters as well as various activists participated in protests on Feb. 25, occupying the many floors of the Capitol building. While the Senate began voting, workers chanted slogans such as, “What’s disgusting? Union busting!” and “Don’t sell us out!”

The youth organization, Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST), joined the protest and spoke with members of the Steamfitters Local 601 from Milwaukee about the new bill. One member said: “I want my voice to be heard, and I won’t let what was fought for and sacrificed for in the past be in vain.”

Another said: “I lost money being here. I have no paid days off. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. I missed a day of work to support this.”

This is direct testimony of the attitude of working-class and oppressed peoples in Wisconsin towards RTW legislation and the politicians that the capitalist class has bought and paid for.

FIST members were on the scene to oppose Scott Walker’s incessant attack on unions and workers’ rights. This attack, if successful, will disproportionately damage the interests of people of color; the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities; and women, and will hurt all working people.

This is not the first time Wisconsin workers have come under heavy assault from the bosses and their lackeys. In 2008, General Motors management decided it would abandon the working class of Janesville, Wis., leaving many workers without a job or a means of providing for themselves and families. “For sale” signs now dot Janesville’s neighborhoods. With this loss of unionized manufacturing jobs, all that remains is dead-end service-sector jobs or low-wage factory work that is nonunion.

If RTW passes, this trend will continue. The working class will not accept this!

Every sector of the working class and oppressed is being attacked in Wisconsin and this has increased with bill after bill in the right-wing legislature since January. FIST calls on everyone being attacked to come to the capital to protest and occupy the Capitol again. And if need be, to occupy all of Madison to shut RTW down.

The writer is a FIST member from Janesville, Wis. This article appeared originally on workers.org

For more information on actions planned this week to beat back “Right to work” laws in Wisconsin, check out http://wibailoutpeople.org.