14th June 2002
One of the most dangerous examples of censorship in the
media is the virtual absence in our newspapers and on TV of
any serious reporting of the activities of the Left in America
and many people assume that almost all Americans support President
Bush and his policies which were discussed, last weekend,
at a Conference in Washington organized by the International
Democrat Union the Thinktank of the world's Right.
Since I got connected to the internet I have been receiving
a stream of e-mails from "email@example.com",
which, at least ten times a day, sends me information about
the American Left which is both intensely interesting and
very encouraging and over the last few days three, in particular,
have caught my attention.
The first reported an article by Congressman Bernie Saunders,
a socialist member of the House of Representatives, who has
written a powerful account of the scale of Corporate Welfare
in the United States, which he has calculated means that $125
billion dollars a year are paid by the American taxpayer in
grants, tax breaks and subsidies to the some of the largest
and most profitable corporations, at a time when the US has
an incredible $6 trillion national debt and is actually borrowing
money from the Social Security Trust Fund to pay its way.
He cites the Export-Import bank which issued loan guarantees
to Enron, Boeing, Mobil, IBM, General Electric, Motorola and
General Motors amongst others, much of it in so-called job
creation schemes to companies that are actually eliminating
hundreds of thousands of American jobs by moving plants to
China, Mexico, Vietnam wherever the wages are lower.
TIME magazine, recently calculated that one-third of a million
jobs have gone down the drain over the last ten years all
from companies that have received more than 60% of the Export-Import
subsidies and it is clear that the process of deliberate de-industrialization,
which has so damaged our own manufacturing base here in Britain,
is also going on apace across the Atlantic in pursuit of Third
Way policies necessary to sustain capitalism.
The second e-mail reports on the decision by the Green Party
to select Stanley Aronowitz a Sociology Professor, former
steel worker, trade union organizer and peace campaigner,
to be their candidate for the Governorship of New York State
and his programme which includes, amongst others the following
High quality schools and free tuition at universities and
state subsidized health insurance, universal public child
care, all paid for by progressive taxation and an end to the
tax giveaways for the rich.
The closure of nuclear power plants and a move to renewable
energy and conservation; subsidies for affordable housing
and grants for organic farming to revitalize local economies;
a guaranteed income to replace the bankrupt welfare system
allowing for greater help for single mothers, with birth control
and abortion advice to be covered by employers health insurance.
Opposition to the curtailment of civil liberties, the attack
on immigrants and the austerity programmes which are now justified
by the campaign against terrorism.
The third e-mail which caught my eye reported on the decision
by the AFL-CIO General Board - America's equivalent of the
TUC General Council - to require every affiliated trade unionist
to pay four cents a month more, over the next three years
which would generate $17.5 million to fund a campaign,.
John Sweeney, the AFL-CIO president pointed out that one-third
of all members of the US Congress were millionaires and that
union households make up 26% of the total national vote, distributed
21 million worksite leaflets and sent 15 million mail messages
to it members.
The campaigns which the AFL-CIO unions are to run will be
around a programme called "Agenda for America" dealing
with the state of the economy, unemployment, health insurance,
social security and corporate greed, but contain no reference
to the war on terrorism, even though the cost of that war
explains why life is so difficult for American workers.
A socialist critique of capitalism, a programme of reform
geared to help those who need it most and evidence that the
US trade unions seem to be serious about their political role
is good news for our Labour and Socialist movement, reminding
me that Keir Hardie believed that America would go socialist
before Britain did, in part because he thought it was not
weighed down by all the feudal baggage which we have to carry
and which we saw on display during the Jubilee.
It is true that very little of the American Left has yet
felt able to take a stand against the Imperialist war policies
which are the centre piece of White House thinking, though
we can hardly complain since the New Labour government has
committed itself totally to those policies, though with far
less public support than Bush can rely on.
In the long-term it will be the American people, properly
informed and well led who must play a key role in ending the
US Empire, just as the Left in Britain helped the national
liberation leaders to get their case across in Britain, finding
good and strong allies here to support their demands.
The Atlantic ocean may be wide but "firstname.lastname@example.org"
has helped to narrow it, and with the power of the internet
growing we should not be surprised to hear that the security
services have now been authorized to intercept all our e-mail
messages because they know that we are stronger than we seem
to realize ourselves.