October 18, 2012

I fear for them

Guest: Tim Koch, local political activist and member of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), talks about alternatives to the capitalist system. 

What has made socialism acceptable for those under 30 years old? Of course, I have always hoped for a capitalist system with a heart for my country, like the more enlightened democracies of Europe. And I realized that most of these countries were not given egalitarian societies, but had to earn them through class struggle. So I have always been for struggle and resistance. No justice, no peace.

Now, I am not so sure about any of this. Does the capitalist system eventually destroy workers and then destroy itself? The last thirty years has not shown any slow "bend towards justice," in MLK's words. The very rich in America have behaved like Marx and Engels said they would a hundred and fifty years ago. The prosperity the elites have shared with the middle class since World War II has been replaced by something very different. The billionaires have forced everyone else into ever more desperate poverty. The children of the middle class are now burdened with debt even before they start their first jobs. 

"But as long as you continue to produce in the present unconscious, thoughtless manner, at the mercy of chance--for just so long trade crises will remain; and each successive crisis is bound to become more universal and therefore worse than the preceding one; is bound to impoverish a larger body of small capitalists, and to augment in increasing proportion the numbers of the class who live by labour alone, thus considerably enlarging the mass of labour to be employed (the major problem of our economists) and finally causing a social revolution such as has never been dreamt of in the philosophy of the economists" -Engels

Maybe sharing isn't the point any more. The rich won't share anyway, as they grow ever more powerful and greedy. And our very earth is threatened in ways that Marx and Engels couldn't have imagined. Perhaps the radicalism we see in a younger generation is the first step in a necessary evolution of our species. We must either evolve quickly or become extinct. Which will it be?

My grandchildren may know the answer, and I fear for them.

October 14, 2012

Anna Baltzer at the New School

Guest: Anna Baltzer, author of "A Witness in Palestine" and head of US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, spoke at the New School on "The Jewish American Relationship with Israel at a Crossroads."
The Russell Tribunal was a very good event. Several of the speakers were somewhat dry, but that may reflect what this was supposed to be, a judicial exploration and ruling on the plight of the Palestinians.
For something to stir one's passion, I recommend Saleh Hamayel on Palestinian Sociocide. Also, the film on Operation Cast Lead that was shown during the break on Sunday was hard to get through, but ultimately effective in making one realize the carnage that goes hand in hand with Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.
Anna Baltzer and Norman Finkelstein at the Center for Art and Politics (New School) was also well worth attending. Anna was very straightforward and convincing as usual. Finkelstein was just terribly insulting (particularly to Anna), a man on his way to a nervous breakdown. I don't think he is a credible spokesperson for Palestinian rights. His heart is in the preservation of Israel as a Jewish state, and all the rest seems to be a way of somehow achieving that end. He is so against BDS that he insinuated that Anna was an intellectual lightweight and a liar for advocating it. I don't see his usefulness in the movement, although the discussion clarified the trauma that is confronting many Jewish Americans.