THE LEFT IN AMERICA

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 "portsidemod@yahoo.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 policies.

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 "portsidemod@yahoo.com" 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.


 

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