workers freedom

economics as if workers mattered

Monthly Archives: April 2014

Bakunin and the First International

I will be speaking Saturday at the Platypus International Conference, representing the anarchist cause on a panel on the split in the First International and its implications for contemporary movements. It is of course quite clear that Marx and his allies deliberately set out to destroy the International when it became clear that they could maintain their dominance only through bureaucratic means. Since then, we have had many opportunities to test in practice the Marxian program for a statist road to socialism, and as “scientific socialists” we might expect general agreement that Bakunin was right. After all, his hypothesis has been tested again and again, and has been confirmed each time!

I and another member of the ASR editorial collective will also be speaking on our work with the magazine. We have started work on a new issue, which hopefully will come together next month…

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Jail whistleblowers, liberals plead

The April 7 issue of The Nation has a guest editorial, “Plea Time for Snowden,” that calls on the Obama administration to offer whistleblower Edward Snowden a deal: jail time of nine months to a year (perhaps, they suggest, Obama might commute it, much as George Bush II did for Scooter Libby — convicted for exposing an undercover CIA agent for no purpose other than revenge on her husband, who had exposed one of the lies behind the Bush regime’s case for invading Iraq), and two years of “debriefing” by the national “intelligence” agencies. (NPR reported this morning noting that a three-year study found that ordinary citizens armed with a Google search engine were about as good at predicting world events as were “intelligence” agencies armed with their surveillance records and other “secrets,” some of which may even have been true.)

Snowden has little chance of persuading a judge that his disclosures were justified, they argue. Perhaps that’s true; there’s little evidence that the courts are much interested in justice, or in the indisputable fact that his disclosures have shed much-needed light on the massive scope of government snooping. (Indeed, much of the scandal arises from the fact that the spies have gone beyond the almost-universally-accepted spying on ordinary citizens to snooping on the heads of “friendly” governments and even rooting around in the files of U.S. senators and destroying information that might embarrass the CIA.)

Snowden broke promises, blew the whistle on surveillance programs and tarnished the reputation of the country abroad, but his actions led to an important national policy debate that would not have happened but for him…

So he should go to jail. With liberals like these, who needs conservatives?

Meanwhile, George Bush the Second and his team of war criminals walk the streets undisturbed, the Guantanamo detainees (many of whom the government admits it has no reason to hold) continue to be tortured, no GM executive will go to jail for decisions that killed at least 13 people in order to save 90 cents on a car part, and the looters who sparked the continuing economic catastrophe are wallowing in their unearned millions. Ain’t capitalism wonderful?