Dr. Jane Goodall, Earth Day, and Disney

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The scientific discoveries of English primatologist Jane Goodall overturned bourgeois-materialist zoology. Beginning her academic career as secretary and protege of anthropologist Louis Leaky, she was able to observe, through innovative new methods of field observation, what the bourgeois-materialist scientists could not. By forming long-terms bonds with the chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park in British-occupied Tanzania, Goodall was the first scientist to observe tool-making in animals outside the human species. (In response to this discovery, Leaky was said to have remarked “We must now redefine man, redefine tool, or accept chimpanzees as human!”) More importantly, she observed outward displays of emotion and camaraderie (such as kissing, hugging, mourning) among the apes which challenged the erroneous bourgeois-materialist belief that higher animals are mechanical and instinctual beings with no emotional bond or individual personality.

A New York Times article from 2007 illustrates the importance of Goodall’s work, and the advances in this important scientific field since then;

“‘Fifty years ago, we knew next to nothing about chimpanzees,’ said Andrew Whiten, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. ‘You could not have predicted the richness and complexity of chimp culture that we know now.’ … Tetsuro Matsuzawa, a Kyoto primatologist, described a young chimp watching as numbers 1 through 9 flashed on the computer screen at random positions. Then the numbers disappeared in no more than a second. White squares remained where the numbers had been. The chimp casually but swiftly pressed the squares, calling back the numbers in ascending order — 1, 2, 3, etc. The test was repeated several times, with the numbers and squares in different places. The chimp, which had months of training accompanied by promised food rewards, almost never failed to remember where the numbers had been. The video included scenes of a human failing the test, seldom recalling more than one or two numbers, if any. ‘Humans can’t do it,’ Dr. Matsuzawa said. ‘Chimpanzees are superior to humans in this task.’ Dr. Matsuzawa suggested that early human species ‘lost the immediate memory and, in return, learned symbolization, the language skills.’ ‘I call this the trade-off theory,’ he continued. ‘If you want a capability like better immediate memory, you have to lose some other capability.’ Other experiments at Kyoto’s primate center demonstrated the ability of chimps to recognize themselves and focus attention on others. Masaki Tomonaga, who conducted the tests, said that an infant made eye contact with its mother at about 2 months and that sometime after the first year was able to maintain a gaze as the mother moved about. Dr. Tomonaga said such ‘gaze following’ developed in humans about the same age, ‘though infant humans generally have more complex interactions.’ (“Almost Human, and Sometimes Smarter”, April 2007)

Goodall’s discoveries confirm the principles of dialectical materialism.  Goodall’s firsthand observations of humanity’s distant cousin, the chimpanzee, affirm Engels’ observation about the first qualitative leap in human evolution:

“The first operations for which our ancestors gradually learned to adapt their hands during the many thousands of years of transition from ape to man could have been only very simple ones…Before the first flint could be fashioned into a knife by human hands, a period of time probably elapsed in comparison with which the historical period known to us appears insignificant. But the decisive step had been taken, the hand had become free and could henceforth attain ever greater dexterity; the greater flexibility thus acquired was inherited and increased from generation to generation….Thus the hand is not only the organ of labour, it is also the product of labour…the development of labour necessarily helped to bring the members of society closer together by increasing cases of mutual support and joint activity, and by making clear the advantage of this joint activity to each individual.” (“The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man”)

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Engels, unlike the anthro-chauvinists and bourgeois-materialists of now and then, understood the relationship between humanity and the higher mammals:

“In its natural state, no animal feels handicapped by its inability to speak or to understand human speech. It is quite different when it has been tamed by man. The dog and the horse, by association with man, have developed such a good ear for articulate speech that they easily learn to understand any language within their range of concept. Moreover they have acquired the capacity for feelings such as affection for man, gratitude, etc., which were previously foreign to them. Anyone who has had much to do with such animals will hardly be able to escape the conviction that in many cases they now feel their inability to speak as a defect, although, unfortunately, it is one that can no longer be remedied because their vocal organs are too specialised in a definite direction. However, where vocal organs exist, within certain limits even this inability disappears. The buccal organs of birds are as different from those of man as they can be, yet birds are the only animals that can learn to speak; and it is the bird with the most hideous voice, the parrot, that speaks best of all. Let no one object that the parrot does not understand what it says. It is true that for the sheer pleasure of talking and associating with human beings, the parrot will chatter for hours at a stretch, continually repeating its whole vocabulary. But within the limits of its range of concepts it can also learn to understand what it is saying. Teach a parrot swear words in such a way that it gets an idea of their meaning (one of the great amusements of sailors returning from the tropics); tease it and you will soon discover that it knows how to use its swear words just as correctly as a Berlin costermonger.” (ibid)

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Or take if you will the Russian biologist Peter Kropotkin, a socialist thinker whose scientific achievements were well-respected after the Russian Revolution:

“It is hardly needful to say that those mammals, which stand at the very top of the animal world and most approach man by their structure and intelligence, are eminently sociable. evidently we must be prepared to meet with all varieties of character and habits in so great a division of the animal kingdom which includes hundreds of species. But, all things considered, it must be said that sociability, action in common, mutual protection, and a high development of those feelings which are the necessary outcome of social life, are characteristic of most monkeys and apes. From the smallest species to the biggest ones, sociability is a rule to which we know but a few exceptions.” – Kropotkin, “Mutual Aid”

But it is not only humanity’s relationship to the higher animals that is important but also the entire sum of life on the planet: Vladimir Vernadsky, the Soviet naturalist who popularized the phrase “biosphere”, once wrote:

“In the thick of life today, intense and complex as it is, a person practically forgets that he, and all of mankind, from which he is inseparable, are inseparably connected with the biosphere … it is customary to talk about man as an individual who moves freely about our planet, and freely constructs his own history. Hitherto neither historians, scientists in the humanities, nor, to a certain extent, even biologists have consciously taken into account the laws of the nature of the biosphere—the envelope of Earth, which is the only place where life can exist. Man is elementally indivisible from the biosphere. And this inseparability is only now beginning to become precisely clear to us. In reality, no living organism exists in a free state on Earth. All of these organisms are inseparably and continuously connected—first and foremost by feeding and breathing—with their material-energetic environment.” (The Biosphere and the Noösphere, 1943)

When can use Vernadsky’s scientific breakthrough to illustrate that we owe all of our modern ecological thinking to the great socialist revolution of 1917 – and to the science of socialism. Vernadsky’s theories were not an idealist departure from Marxist dogma, but affirm Marx’s and Engels’ own, avant-garde writings on ecological issues:

“Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human conquest over nature. For each such conquest takes its revenge on us. Each of them, it is true, has in the first place the consequences on which we counted, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel out the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor, and elsewhere, destroyed the forests to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that they were laying the basis for the present devastated condition of these countries, by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture. When, on the southern slopes of the mountains, the Italians of the Alps used up the pine forests so carefully cherished on the northern slopes, they had no inkling that by doing so they were cutting at the roots of the dairy industry in their region; they had still less inkling that they were thereby depriving their mountain springs of water for the greater part of the year, with the effect that these would be able to pour still more furious flood torrents on the plains during the rainy seasons. Those who spread the potato in Europe were not aware that they were at the same time spreading the disease of scrofula. Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature—but that we, with flesh, blood, and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other beings of being able to know and correctly apply its laws.” – Engels, the Dialectics of Nature

“[Capital] disturbs the metabolic interaction between man and the earth, i.e. it prevents the return to the soil of its constituent elements consumed by man in the form of food and clothing; hence it hinders the operation of the eternal natural condition for the lasting fertility of the soil…But by destroying the circumstances surrounding that metabolism…it compels its systematic restoration as a regulative law of social production, and in a form adequate to the full development of the human race…All progress in capitalist agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the worker, but of robbing the soil; all progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time is a progress toward ruining the more long-lasting sources of that fertility…Capitalist production, therefore, only develops the techniques and the degree of combination of the social process of production by simultaneously undermining the original sources of all wealth—the soil and the worker.” – Marx, Capital, vol. 1

“Freedom in this sphere [the realm of natural necessity] can consist only in this, that socialized man, the associated producers, govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way, bringing it under their own collective control instead of being dominated by it as a blind power; accomplishing it with the least expenditure of energy and in conditions most worthy and appropriate for their human nature” – Marx, Capital vol. 3

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However, Goodall, like many members of the bourgeois intelligentsia, (such as Darwin before her) cannot on an individual level fully comprehend the socio-historical ramifications of her contributions to the wealth of human knowledge. This is why the Jane Goodall Institute has partnered in promoting the film “Disney’s Chimpanzee”, which was released on Earth Day to exploit the people’s love of chimpanzees and wild animals to promote philistine sentimentalism and bourgeois environmentalism.

The film, purporting to be a nature documentary, clips together non-sequential and unrelated footage of wild chimp activity and splices it with the inane voice-over bumblings of bourgeois comedian Tim Allen to tell a saccharine story of a baby chimp named Oscar and his dramatic escapades against a rival chimp gang. (One film review from the Washington Post says “One wonders whether more than a few viewers won’t want to take home a baby chimp after seeing the film.”) This is a technique that Disney has employed before in their “True Life Adventures” educational-television series and the fictional plot of “Disney’s Chimpanzee” bears a striking similarity to the plot of their classic 1994 animation “The Lion King”.

Anthropomorphic animals are a staple of Disney propaganda cartoons, but this obviously has nothing to do with a dialectical materialist appreciation of the biosphere or animal life. For example, the ideological moral of “Bambi” is that humans ultimately spoil the pristine, idyllic wilderness and thus the division between humanity and nature is something to be cherished and preserved. We can observe similar nature-themes running throughout the pathologically misogynistic and white-supremacist undertones of Disney films; The Pastoral Symphony piece in “Fantasia” depicts blonde, Aryan centaurs having their hooves polished by a sub-human Afrikan womyn slave zebra-centaur; (illustrating perfectly that Beethoven’s music was highly progressive in its historical era but has its fair share of reactionary admirers today) thus we are given a false image of static, romantic nature in which human systems of exploitation are fixed and part of the natural order of the world. In “Dumbo” the crows are personified as New Afrikans, in “Song of the South”, the simple-minded New Afrikan share-cropper Uncle Remus is able to speak and sing to birds, much like the simple-minded virgin Snow White in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”, who is seduced by a menopausal “witch” brandishing the apple of knowlege. While Disney children’s propaganda has gotten more subtle and sophisticated over the years, reactionary pseudo-environmental themes (along with the misogyny and white supremacy of course) have persisted; this can be seen in “The Jungle Book”, “Robin Hood”, “The Fox and the Hound”, “The Little Mermaid”, “The Lion King”, “Pocahontas”, “Tarzan”, “Brother Bear”, and so on.

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If Disney had any interest in creating a socially realistic portrayal of the existential threats facing our chimpanzee cousins, we would have a film depicting the logging industry, bushmeat industry, and exotic pet industry as the primary antagonists. More and more of the chimpanzee’s natural habitat is destroyed by deforestation; mother chimpanzees are killed and the children (as cute as Oscar) abducted to sell as exotic pets to the global bourgeoisie; poachers kill chimpanzees and sell their meat to desperate workers pushed into a state of extreme starvation and malnutrition by the shackles of capitalism. (This says everything that needs to be said about the horrors of colonialism: violently placed into extreme hunger and desperation, the workers of Africa are forced to consume the flesh of humanity’s closest living relative to survive.) A November 2001 Guardian article points out, chimpanzees, despite their similarities to humans, are more resilient to HIV and may hold the key to a cure; the potential extinction of chimpanzees would close a door on new innovations in genetic sequencing.

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But Disney’s purpose in life is not to cure humanity’s ailments, but to intensify them, to exploit the masses for imperialist super-profits. This is why Donald Duck cartoons were distributed in Chile during the seventies depicting Marx and Hegel as vultures. (Like the lazy crows in “Dumbo”) This is why factory-workers in China, as young as 14, are working 120 hours of overtime a month, inhaling toxic fumes, and being denied medical treatment by their managers for assembly-line accidents, are manufacturing Disney merchandise to sell in the west. This is why womyn employed for minimum wage at Disney World can be fired for having shaved heads, tattoos, or sleeveless tops with shoulder straps narrower than three inches.

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The masses in the ever-expanding metropolitan world are conditioned to a life somewhat alienated from the biosphere, with detrimental psychological effects, they can only find solace in watching the filmed antics of exotic animals that are being exterminated in the wild by the same capitalist system that deprives said masses of direct contact with the ecology. Luckily Earth Day is not just any other holiday; it is also Lenin’s birthday, and Earth Day began as a celebration among the revolutionary workers’ and students’ struggles in the US circa 1969-70, around the same time as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of socialist China which, despite its limitations, (and eventual defeat at the hands of capitalists within the party) pioneered the way forward in regards to an ecologically sane attempt to transition from socialism to communism. We look forward to a time when our grandchildren all across the world, freed from toil, can walk the sprawling metropolitan herb gardens of the future and see chimpanzees and other majestic animals at work and play, and sit and study our species’ past, up close, like Goodall once did.

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The Kasama Project: An Obstacle for the Revolutionary Left in the USA

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I have written numerous articles for the Kasama Project, mostly motivated by boredom and leisure. It is my opinion that the Kasama Project is a “Potemkin Village”-style organization that exists mostly on paper; thoroughly ensconced in the ideology of activism, specifically Internet activism. Recently, upon coming to criticize the Kasama Project; not just certain positions taken by certain individuals associated with the group (which is disingenuously encouraged in the spirit of eclecticism and open dialogue – more on this in a second) but the content of the group itself, I was personally verbally attacked by the group’s leader Mike Ely, who employed obscenity and veiled threats.

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Kasama's praxis

Kasama is commonly criticized for eclecticism, but this is only half the problem. Their eclecticism is very prejudicial. In the spirit of open dialogue they will issue numerous tedious and esoteric critiques of RCP-USA (1) and their past and present errors; this will escalate into flame-wars with Avakianites, (2) which adds to the morbid spectacle of Kasama and generates interest (and thus website hits) among curious onlookers confused about the relevance of these two groups to the political situation in the US.

However any group that criticizes Kasama as is, and does so effectively, will be censored to a pathological extent. The examples of this are numerous:

-The French blog Voie Lactee, (associated in some way with the French PCMLM (4) ) which is  notorious for issuing colorful sectarian critiques of other groups, wrote a mostly-accurate criticism of Kasama entitled “Kasama, a Counter-Revolutionary Project”. If the RCP-USA had written such a piece, Kasama would have exploited it to no ends to generate publicity and controversy and to promote the myth of a “historic rupture” with Avakian.  (3) However, such a well-worded criticism from a group outside the US is potentially damaging to Kasama; thus Ely and company quietly dismiss it as “not worth responding to”, and quietly add Voie Lactee to their shit-list, ensuring that Voie Lactee’s important theoretical research into astrophysics and ecological science will never be part of Kasama’s “new imagining” lest some unsuspecting recruit discover a negative view of Kasama from outside the RCP-USA.

-Freddy Bastone’s “You Cut Yourself Grabbing that Knife: A Critique of the Kasama Project” is well-known among intellectual circles interested in such a subject. However Bastone’s criticism, despite being thorough and well-argued, apparently merits no response or even public acknowlegement. (Meanwhile far more tepid and less rigorous “criticisms” of the group are regularly paradied around the blog as proof of Kasama’s commitment to open dialogue and honest self-critique) Not only that but Bastone’s affiliate group, RSCC, (5) is completely deleted from Kasama’s reports concerning the revolutionary left in NYC. The RSCC is not even ideologically attacked; in the eyes and ears of Kasama, they simply do not exist.

-The best example of this would be the PCR-RCP (6) of Canada. They are a relatively large group. Yet to, say, a casual outside observer, whose only source of news for the revolutionary left in North America may be Kasama, (and I have corresponded with many of these unfortunately decieved international comrades who trust Kasama to be a reliable source of information on current conditions in North America) the PCR-RCP does not exist; this relates directly to Kasama’s mechanical and legalistic criticism of PCR-RCP’s stance on the universality of protracted people’s war. (a concept which Mike Ely unscientifically rejects) However PCR-RCP’s public theoretical documents on the subject are not analyzed and criticized in this regard. They are simply ignored, censored from public mention. In the history of Kasama, only one brief article on the PCR-RCP has appeared, in response to the dramatic and high-profile attempts at repression on behalf of the Canadian state in July of last year. (Four PCR-RCP members were arrested by the GAMMA of the Montréal SPVM) This low level of acknowledgement from Kasama, inversely corresponding to the relevance of the group in material reality, is a shining example of the distorted image Kasama paints of the revolutionary left in the US to perpetuate their own fucked-up agenda.

-Similarly, the revolutionary and popular struggles within the prison system of southwest Virginia are mostly ignored by Kasama, even though they’ve recently grabbed the attention of even the bourgeois persteige press such as the Washington Post. To this date, Kasama has reported on the NABPP-PC (7) and its internationally well-known founder Kevin “Rashid” Johnson only twice. The only explanation I can offer to this discrepency in Kasama’s reporting on NABPP-PC is rather esoteric: One of the members of a NABPP-PC affiliate group, SPARC, (8) is also an editor of the Signlafire blog; (9) an editor who recently denounced Kasama Project as “revisionist” and trolled the comments section of the Kasama blog as “worker antagonism”.

The Kasama Project’s allure is the blog, ie: Kasama practices a fetish of the logos and the blog’s allure is the comments section (In what is almost dada, the editorial line of the Kasama Project is mostly patched together from musings on the comments section – much like the Muppets are only made funny by the sardonic comments of Statler and Waldorph.) Kasama thrives off of the arduous mental labor of a loose group of mostly young, male, and white revolutionaries such as myself who are drawn to the hobby of ecclectic Internet debate and oriented around the project of Mike Ely. If these elements were integrated into practical or useful mass-work, or even more focused theoretical research, than Kasama’s gravy-train would run dry. Kasama has an objective interest in holding the revolutionary left back, because their work serves the existence of their blog, as opposed to the correct role of the press in revolutionary struggles, where the press organs serve the interest of the real, practical movement.

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Riding the tiger

The Kasama Project’s practice is thoroughly erroneous; they masquerade as an anarchist/ultraleft style “open-ended project” to disguise their opportunism and the cult of Mike Ely. They relish in their militant agnosticism; it allows for a culture that rejects affiliate responsibilities as “dogmatic”. This appeals to desperate and isolated forces. However objectively their line is opportunistic, following fads and whims. This can be noted in their single-minded infatuation with #Occupy and the Arab Spring in a general sense, superficial enthusiasm for Filipine, Peruvian, and Indian Maoism , and their constantly shifting narrative on the events in Nepal. We are given an image of a world where Naxalbari, #Occupy, youth riots in London, and the Arab Spring are all part of some Badiouian “grand moment”, when really they are all different historical events with differing class-characters.

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In the future, Jefferson will be cloned and then executed by the dictatorship of the proletariat. It's a good thing.

Kasama polices its motley crew of Internet trolls with laws against “snark” and “personal rather than political commentary”. This is not a scientific policy for moderating discussion as it is hinged on the subjective judgement of the moderation. There are also no clearly stated open or transparent qualifications or limits put on the moderators; this is typical anarchist practice (frequently criticized as informal heirarchy) which is “ultra-democratic” in form but despotic and totalitarian in content. (The Kasama Projects are apologists of anarchist “consensus” which is a petty-bourgeois, anti-democratic and ultra-anarchic leadership structure which challenges the democratic political content of communism.) The notion of “personal attacks” being seperate from political attacks is based on a mechanical and anti-dialectical understanding of the subject and human thought. (As Mike Ely himself correctly explained to me in his obscenity-filled threats, “you made it personal”.)
For example recently a figure named Thomas Smith has joined the parade of characters offering “insights” on the comments section off the Kasama blog, “insights” such as “you don’t want to appear racist, for disagreeing with black nationalists?! FUCK ‘EM! They’re not our friends! Stop slobbering all over them and kowtowing to them! GET OVER THE ENDLESS SOUL SEARCHING AND THE SELF GUILT TRIPPING”, and “I do not think that Chicano nationalism is legitimate, [the] confiscation of the land by the U.S. occured a long long time ago, [as] socialists we should not offer them pipe dreams of national separation, [...] that’s divisive…”, and “Chicanos and Native American workers would do better by joining a vanguard party of the multiracial, multicultural proletariat of the U.S., and so would Puerto Ricans who have migrated here”. Instead of doing the responsible thing and rebuking this figure for espousing false-internationalist white chauvinism, Mike Ely indulges this banter (because it generates more fruitless yet entertaining rhetorical discourse) and actually penalizes and censures comrade  “sks” (10) for pointing out that this toxic white-chauvinist line is the product of a white political subjectivity. A false line is upheld as “political” and thus acceptable and a correct line is censored as “personal” and thus abusive. (Although Kasama does not believe in correct lines because they mostly reject objective science in favor of metaphysics) This technique is also seen in the approach to Carl Davidson (11) whose idle commentary is celebrated on Kasama as a “negative example”. (In fact anyone who criticizes Kasama is smeared as “a Carl Davidson”.) Rather than attempt to personally rehabilitate, or else distance themselves, from this tragic figure, they morbidly keep him around as a “pet” to compare themselves favorably to. The purpose of Kasama’s relationship with Carl Davidson is not strategic, it is an intellectual curiousity; because Kasama is not engaged in practical party-work, but rather flights of intellectual curiousity.

The Kasama Project has an ideological vendetta with those who uphold the “white settler” analysis of history because Kasama’s grounds of recruitment is among the white intellectual dalutante left.

Mike Ely does not believe in personal self-criticism. Like Bob Avakian, he believes there is nothing wrong with an old white man running the left. He only believes of criticism of others, there is no criticism for him to be had, only thanks for running a blog. Kasama carries on the tradition of RCP-USA, there is no diffinitive break. In many cases they are objectively to the right of RCP-USA. Take for example the Kasama Press offering “Avakian’s Assessment of Thomas Jefferson”, where Avakian is reprimanded for his staunch view of bourgeois revolutionary Thomas Jefferson. Nowhere does the text mention the psychologically degrading character of New Afrikan schools across the US named after Thomas Jefferson and other bourgeois slave-owners. Jefferson must only be seen in his “historically progressive” light.

There are good things about the Kasama Project, but even their good betrays their fundamental political errors:

-Ely criticizes productionist essentialism and emphasizes the importance of ecology. (See “Revolutionizing Production Itself: For Humanity and the World”) Yet Kasama has not conducted any serious long-term campaigns of study into ecological sciences or won over the support of any ‘hard’ scientists in that vast field of academic study. Instead they merely parade Stephanie McMillan (12) around as their token convert from green anarchism. (McMillan despite her immense intelligence has yet to see through this) A communist answer to ecology will not be solved by winning over a handful of eco-anarchists and deep ecologists, but through a thorough synthesis of modern academic research into genetics climatology, forestry, zoology, mycology, agronomy, microbiology, ocenography, meteorology, astrobiology, and so on, with the scientific tradition of dialectical materialism, just as the original insights of Marx and Engels were achieved through study of academic sciences of the day.

-Ely offers up an attempt at assessing the failures of Stalin (“On Socialist Methods and the Stalin-Era Purges”) but this attempt is moralistic and doesn’t analyze the issue scientifically, which requires analyzing the objective conditions for the failure of the USSR; capitalist-imperialism which destabilized the socialist economy up to and during WWII, (one example of many: the USSR’s retreat from proletarian internationalism was in part a strategic necessity of their life-or-death alliance with US-UK imperialism against German-Japanese imperialism) as well as the subjective. Ely’s analysis of the subjective weaknesses is also of limited use and does not delve into a plethora of neglected issues. (to be hopefully discussed on this blog at a later date) Ely believes erroneously that a “thorough and honest” (ie: moralistic) assessment of the Purges alone will impress the masses into rejecting liberal anti-Stalinism and embracing communism, at the same time he never explores other more important issues of the era (such as controversies within Soviet science, Stalin’s industrial policy and theories of productive forces, the era’s relapse into patriarchalism and Russian-chauvinism and the surmounting national and gender contradiction, or for that matter actual scientific analysis of the subjective weaknesses of and objective causes for the Yezhov-Beria approach to criminal policy under socialism and other real and hypothetical alternatives, etc.) and never moves beyond the standard flat “Trotsky as left-opportunist / Bukharin as right-opportunist” analysis of the situation.

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Revolution from the side-lines

-Ely’s “The Maoist Revolution in Tibet”, while a useful and mostly correct document, does not break as steadily as he hopes it does, with the revisionist tradition of Han-chauvinism that prevailed under the era of capitalist restoration in the PRC. For example, on the basis of the reactionary ideology of the modern Tibetan feudal-exile class, it fails to take into account the historically progressive character of Buddhism in regards to the classical history of Tibet; (the exact same error that RCP-USA applies in its analysis of Christianity, a fact that Ely and Kasama are happy to drive into the ground) this is based on a lack of actual study into the subject of Buddhist philosophy or classical Tibetan history. On this basis alone it will not be taken seriously by the thousands of ethnic Tibetans in the US (a preponderate amount of whom are academic professionals on the subject) and thus it is a “blunt impliment” in criticizing either the politics of the feudal-exiles or the Han-chauvinist and social-colonialist character of the modern PRC.

-Ely and Kasama are critical of social-pacifism, (see Ely’s “Violence & Street Fighting: Who says it alienates the people?”) but uphold an equally erroneous “Protracted Peoples War Cannot Work in an Advanced Country” line inherited from the RCP-USA, which in content is a hindrance to the formation of a coherent revolutionary military policy in the US.

These modest achievements must be contrasted with their immense failures; attacking the theoretical insights  into US white-supremacy made by J. Sakai, collaborating with the bourgeois line within Occupy Wall St., (in the form of Occupied Wall St. Journal, a capitalist soap-box for journalistic liberal celebrities such as Matt Taibbi, Naomi Kline, and Chris Hedges) offering a confused analysis of events in Libya, (Many regional communist groups in the Arab world saw the spontaneous riots and tenet struggles emerging under the fascist/social-imperialist Jamahiriya but Kasama never even entertained the possibility that as the Arab Spring turned to the Imperialist-Imperialist Winter, that a rapidly declassed segment of the Jamahiriya’s patriotic national-bourgeoisie, such as Gaddafi who was eventually raped and murdered, could become progressive. On the contrary they openly sided with Louis Proyect (13) in supporting the NGO-organized al-Bannaist imperialist-comprador “rebels” as they lynched hundreds of Black Libyans and quickly became silent on Libya once these issues came to light) and damaging international relationships under the guise of “solidarity”; promoting liquidationist anti-CPP author Reihana Mohideen, dissing Gonzalo thought as “dogmatic” and “Lin Biaoist” while promoting Artemio, clutching onto the Bhattari/Prachanda line in Nepal against all evidence until it was no longer opportune for them to do so…

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The Kasama Project is ultimately rooted in a historicist approach that believes the remnants of the RCP-USA are the vanguard, (this is actually something Ely has disingenuously criticzed the modern-day IWW for also doing) as if the vanguard in the US will not be millions of young people at the bottom of society discovering communism anew. Were Ely to practice self-criticism, were this historicist and elitist approach to be under-turned, Kasama’s raison d’etre would dry up.

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(1) Revolutionary Communist Party USA, the treacherous revisionist group Kasama split off from.
(2) Ideological followers of Bob Avakian.
(3) Bob Avakian, the simple-minded leader of RCP-USA
(4) Parti Communiste (marxiste-léniniste-maoïste)
(5) Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee; a revolutionary CUNY student group
(6) The Parti communiste révolutionnaire | Revolutionary Communist Party; a revolutionary group especially influential in Quebec
(7) New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison Chapter; a revolutionary prisoner’s group
(8) Supporting Prisoners and Acting for Radical Change
(9) Signalfire.org began as the blog of anarchist renegade Peter Gelderloos, but now upholds MLM.
(10) A revolutionary veteran of the anti-imperialist struggle of the US Navy base in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
(11) A “Progressives for Obama” celeb and enthusiastic Dengist.
(12) A popular eco-anarchist cartoonist and former colleague of Derrick Jensen.
(13) A pseudo-Marxist blogger in the US.

Revolutionizing production itself: For humanity and for the world

Violence & Street Fighting: Who says it alienates the people – Kasama

Pollution row hits mining firm supplying Olympic medals

Pollution from the copper mine chosen to produce metal for the medals awarded at the 2012 London Olympics is responsible for up to 200 premature deaths each year, campaigners have claimed.

Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian mining giant, which made $14.3bn (£8.7bn) last year, will supply the metal ores for the medals from its Kennecott Utah Copper mine in Salt Lake City, Utah. But protesters, who travelled from Utah to attend Rio Tinto’s AGM in London yesterday, blamed air pollution and toxic materials emitted from the plant for premature deaths and congenital defects in Salt Lake’s children.

Under the deal agreed with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog), Rio Tinto mines will provide metals for 4,700 gold, silver and bronze medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Gold Olympic medals are plated with about 6 grams of gold, while the runners-up medals are struck from pure silver. The Royal Mint will then craft the final product, which will be the most expensive medals in history due to soaring commodity prices. Chris Townsend, Locog’s commercial director, said he hoped the medals, which will cost Rio Tinto about £10m to source, would be “spectacular and sustainable”.

The Utah Bingham Canyon mine, the largest open pit mining operation in the world, generates nearly 25 per cent of the refined copper produced in the US and 7 per cent of all refined gold.

Forbes magazine has listed Salt Lake City as the 9th most toxic major metropolitan area in the US. The city also ranked worst in the country according to a Toxics Release Inventory tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency. Dr Brian Moench, of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, told The Independent: “There is no other juxtaposition of such an enormous mine so close to this many people anywhere in the world. We are all suffering the health consequences.

“The research shows the impact of air pollution on disrupting the integrity of the embryo in pregnant women and congenital deformities. Air pollution is responsible for between 100 and 200 premature deaths every year in Salt Lake City.”

Rio Tinto, whose profits soared by 200 per cent in 2010, this week announced plans to expand the Salt Lake plant, increasing the county’s air pollution by an estimated 12 per cent. Dr Moench said: “The business model of Rio Tinto is the routine exploitation of local people to maximise profits. Rather than striking medals for the London Games we would much rather they took their £14 billion profit and used it to clean up our air and reinvest their funds into wind and solar power alternatives to coal and natural gas.”

Rio Tinto said its Utah mine extension would reduce emissions by 9 per cent. A spokesman said: “It will have a net benefit to the emissions profile mainly due to the conversion of the existing power plant from coal to natural gas.” The company had met environmental groups, including Utah Moms for Clean Air, to address the potential impact of the project.

A smaller amount of the Olympic medal ores will be produced at another controversial Rio Tinto plant, the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia, the world’s largest undeveloped source of copper and gold deposits. Mongolian-based environmental groups called for a delay in the project, citing concerns over scarcity of water, dust pollution and the impact on protected bird habitats in the Gobi Desert.

Rio Tinto has been forced to fend off a series of allegations of human rights abuses at its plants in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. In 2008, Norway banned its sovereign wealth fund from investing in the company because of environmental concerns.

Walker And Prosser Crushed Regulations On Koch Industry’s Phosphorus Pollution In Wisconsin


Shortly after helping to elect Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Koch Industries opened a new lobbying office in Madison near the state capitol. However, little has been disclosed about the Koch lobbying agenda in Madison. The New York Times reported that Koch political operatives privately pressured Walker to crush public employee unions. But Walker’s major payback to Koch relates to environmental deregulation.

ThinkProgress has learned that the Walker administration, along with state Supreme Court judge David Prosser, has quietly worked to allow Koch’s many Georgia Pacific paper plants to pollute Wisconsin by pouring thousands of pounds of phosphorus into the water.

Koch’s Georgia Pacific plants are well known for releasing large amounts of phosphorus into Wisconsin’s waterways. A report by the state government showed that Georgia Pacific is responsible for about 9% of total phosphorus pollution in the Lower Fox River near Green Bay.

n 2005, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) issued a permit to Koch’s Georgia Pacific company to nearly double its phosphorus pollution in the Fox River. A group of Wisconsin citizens challenged the permit the following year, claiming the DNR’s permit violated the Clean Water Act. In 2010, the Wisconsin Third District Court of Appeals ruled that the public has a right to challenge the permit, and that the DNR did not appropriately hold public hearings. Around the same time, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board adopted “sweeping regulations” to control phosphorus pollution to slow down “runaway algae growth.”

To fight the challenge to the permit, as well as new regulations on phosphorus, Koch’s close allies in the Walker administration and the Wisconsin Supreme Court went into action:

– Rewriting Environmental Regulations For Koch: Last year, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board called for strict numeric limits on phosphorus pollution. The regulations, which were supposed to be implemented in January, were delayed by Walker’s administration. Hidden inside his infamous budget bill passed in March, Walker then inserted a provision to revise and reduce the phosphorus limits proposed by the Natural Resources Board. Walker’s budget bill was rushed through the legislative process without public hearings.

– Ruling In Favor Of Koch And Other Polluters: In March, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, with Justice David Prosser voting with the majority, overturned the lower court decision allowing a public challenge to the permit giving Koch’s Georgia Pacific plants more leeway in dumping phosphorus into waterways.

– Delaying Environmental Regulations For Koch: Earlier this month, the Walker administration announced a two year delay of all phosphorus regulations passed last year. Not only has Walker’s administration called for reduced phosphorus dumping rules, they now have made it clear that no rules will be implemented until 2013.

During this three month period of Koch-enriching policy and legal action, the Koch political largesse has flowed to both Walker and Prosser. The Koch political machine spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads supporting Walker during the budget showdown, organized pro-Walker Tea Party rallies, and mobilized a pro-Walker bus tour. During his recent reelection campaign, Prosser too was boosted by two Koch-linked groups, Citizens for a Strong America and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which ran about $1 million in advertising. A top Georgia Pacific executive overseeing plants responsible for dumping phosphorus in the Fox River sits on the board of the pro-Posser group, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

US Ex-Im Bank Finances Huge Coal Plant in South Africa

The Board of Directors of the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) on Thursday voted to approve $805 million in subsidized financing for one of the world’s largest coal-fired power plants – the 4,800 megawatts (MW) Kusile project, in South Africa.

South African and international civil society organizations and U.S. medical experts strongly oppose Ex-Im Bank financing of Kusile as a heavily polluting project that will harm the health and well-being of South Africans. The project reflects an increasing trend at the agency to focus U.S. exports on fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy alternatives.

The area where Kusile would be built already exceeds permitted ambient levels of hazardous air pollutants that create soot & smog. These and other pollutants that result from coal combustion can cause harm to respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems, leading to heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases, according to Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The externalized costs created by such pollution should have been incorporated – but were not – into Ex-Im Bank’s decision, according to experts at Harvard Medical School.

“Ex-Im Bank Directors’ decision to support Kusile was made despite their full knowledge of the unacceptable damage the project will cause,” said Sunita Dubey, U.S. Representative of Groundwork South Africa, a civil society organization opposing Kusile. “They have completely disregarded the impact on people’s health and livelihoods.”

On April 13, South African civil society leaders made a final appeal to the US Ambassador to South Africa to intervene to stop Ex-Im Bank’s financing from going forward.

On top of the heavy pollution poor communities will bear, the Kusile project will not bring energy access to South Africa’s poor, and does not even include electrification lines for them. What’s worse, Apartheid-era “special pricing agreements” give large industrial users, which consume the lion’s share of South Africa’s electricity, guaranteed rates that are among the lowest in the world.

This will force the every-day consumer to bear the weight of these rate increases-on top of the billions of dollars borrowed for the total project cost to build Kusile.

“It becomes a question of who benefits and who pays the price. In this case the poor pay the price and large corporations reap the benefit,” said Sunita Dubey.

The massive Kusile coal fired power plant will spew 30.5 million tons of C02 annually–increasing South African energy sector emissions by 12.8% and the country’s total contribution to climate change by 9%. Ironically, Durban, South Africa will be the site of global climate talks later this year.

“Ex-Im Bank’s decision places US climate change negotiators in a very tough position,” said Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth U.S. “How can they convince the world they care about climate change this December when earlier the same year they subsidized one of the world’s largest sources of climate pollution? This undermines their credibility.”

Kusile will emit more greenhouse gasses annually than any project in Ex-Im Bank’s history, and 50% more than all greenhouse gas-emitting projects financed by Ex-Im Bank in 2010.

“Ex-Im Bank has a Carbon Policy that doesn’t curb carbon and an energy portfolio that remains over 90% fossil fuel based,” said Doug Norlen, Policy Director, Pacific Environment.

Civil society advocates also decried the cost of job creation associated with Kusile. It is rumored that Ex-Im Bank’s $805 million loan for Kusile will support a mere 100 jobs over 5 years. That works out to about $1.6 million per job per year.

U.S. civil society advocates are particularly dismayed as this financing also undermines the opportunity to position the U.S. as a leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. The U.S. Congress has mandated the agency to extend 10% of its annual financing to renewable energy, which it routinely fails to even come close.

“Ex-Im Bank is missing an enormous opportunity to position the U.S. as a leader in clean technology markets worldwide,” stated Justin Guay, Sierra Club International Climate Program Representative.

“Instead, we are chaining our economy to a 19th century technology while countries worldwide are busy transitioning to the 21st century. We are putting off the inevitable and it is hurting our economic recovery, job creation, and our global environment.”

Air pollution ‘damaging Europe’s wildlife havens’

Air pollution is damaging 60% of Europe’s prime wildlife sites in meadows, forests and heaths, according to a new report.

A team of EU scientists said nitrogen emissions from cars, factories and farming was threatening biodiversity.

It’s the second report this week warning of the on-going risks and threats linked to nitrogen pollution.

The Nitrogen Deposition and Natura 2000 report was published at a key scientific conference in Edinburgh.

Earlier this week, the European Nitrogen Assessment – the first of its kind – estimated nitrogen damage to health and the environment at between £55bn and £280bn a year in Europe, even though nitrogen pollution from vehicles and industry had dropped 30% over recent decades.

Nitrogen in the atmosphere is harmless in its inert state, but the report says reactive forms of nitrogen, largely produced by human activity, can be a menace to the natural world.

Emissions mostly come from vehicle exhausts, factories, artificial fertilisers and manure from intensive farming.

The reactive nitrogen they emit to the air disrupts the environment in two ways:

It can make acidic soils too acidic to support their previous mix of species.

But primarily, because nitrogen is a fertiliser, it favours wild plants that can maximise the use of nitrogen to help them grow.

In effect, some of the nitrogen spread to fertilise crops is carried in the atmosphere to fertilise weeds, possibly a great distance from where the chemicals were first applied.

The effects of fertilisation and acidification favour common aggressive species like grasses, brambles and nettles.

They harm more delicate species like lichens, mosses, harebells and insect-eating sundew plants.

‘Ignored problem’

The report said 60% of wildlife sites were now receiving a critical load of reactive nitrogen.

The report’s lead author, Dr Kevin Hicks from the University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), told BBC News that England’s Peak District had a demonstrably low range of species as a result of the reactive nitrogen that fell on the area.

“Nitrogen creates a rather big problem that seems to me to have been given too little attention,” he said.

“Governments are obliged by the EU Habitats Directive to protect areas like this, but they are clearly failing.”

He said more research was needed to understand the knock-on effects for creatures from the changes in vegetation inadvertently caused by emissions from cars, industry and farms.

At the conference, the delegates agreed “The Edinburgh Declaration on Reactive Nitrogen”.

The document highlights the importance of reducing reactive nitrogen emissions to the environment, adding that the benefits of reducing nitrogen outweigh the costs of taking action.

Indonesia’s Deforestation Moratorium Still on Hold

A two-year moratorium on the burning of forest lands in Indonesia, that was supposed to start at the beginning of the year, is still on hold.  The ban is part of a one billion-dollar deal with Norway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that some scientists say are the primary cause of global warming.

Indonesia is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions.  Deforestation, mostly because of the burning of forests for palm oil farming and mining that currently happens at a rate of 100 million hectors a year, accounts for 50 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 26 percent by 2020.  A two-year moratorium on the development of new forest land, that was supposed to begin back in January, is a key part of Indonesia’s environmental initiative and is part of a one billion dollar deal with Norway to protect forests and reduce emissions.

But the ban has been delayed and the task force charged with developing the moratorium is struggling to come up with ways to make environmental gains without causing economic pain.

Nur Masripatin, director of the Center for Standardization and Environment with the Ministry of Forestry, says it is not economically feasible to expect Indonesia to halt development in all rural areas.

“If your country, having 70 percent of your country land is forest and your population keep growing, is it realistic that in the future, 30 years in the future, you expected your forest still [is] 70 percent of the forest area?” she asked.

The task force is working on definitions she says that will help delineate what areas will be affected by the ban.

Green Peace campaigner Yuyun Idradi is skeptical that the moratorium, when it is finally enacted, will have any environmental impact.   He says the ban will only cover new land permits, not existing ones, and that most of the areas to be covered are already designated as protected forests.   He says the whole process is being delayed by corporate lobbying.

“Negotiation is being closed and there is no information at all up to now and we don’t know how the new draft and when it is going to be signed,” Idradi stated.

Robert Daniel with the Climate Change Unit at the British Embassy in Jakarta says when the ban is enacted, it will not significantly reduce short-term emissions of greenhouse gases.

“What you are talking about is climate change here,” Daniel said. “Very little forest will be protected as a result of the moratorium.  But that is not the point.  As we were saying before, this is a process.  It is a step along the road to reducing deforestation.”

He says the process involves getting businesses to buy into the economic advantages of sustainable development practices.  Daniel says replanting trees in logging areas, increasing productivity in existing palm oil plantations to meet growing demand and developing geothermal energy will bring both economic benefit and reduce emissions, in the long term.

The Forestry Ministry’s Masripatin also sees the moratorium as part of a long-term process in managing its natural resources.

“We should not see [the immediate] impact of the moratorium.  This is very important for us to give us time to review how we manage our forestry resources in the past and what will be needed in the future,” Masripatin said.

She says it is better to delay enacting the moratorium so as to develop a careful, workable plan, rather than to make a sweeping pronouncement that might damage the economy and be overturned in court.

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