Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fwd: SEP Newsletter: Obama's press conference: The smiling face of a police state

Devastating comment by WSWS authors this week on the death of Lavabit and the Ascension of the Police State in America -RMF

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From: "Socialist Equality Party" <>
Date: Aug 10, 2013 7:07 AM
Subject: SEP Newsletter: Obama's press conference: The smiling face of a police state
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World Socialist Web Site

Socialist Equality Party Newsletter

Below is a selection of articles appearing on the World Socialist Web Site last week. Six days a week, the WSWS publishes on all the major political, social and cultural developments. To sign up for the daily newsletter, click here.
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Obama's press conference: The smiling face of a police state

10 August 2013
At Friday's press conference, President Barack Obama resorted to outright lies in his defense of the massive and illegal surveillance programs exposed by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.
Obama made it clear that, as far as he was concerned, the problem was not that wholesale violations of the Constitution were being perpetrated by his government, but that these crimes had been made known and had alarmed the public. What was needed was a better job of public relations.
The press conference itself was thrown together to assuage popular anger and concern over the systematic violation of privacy rights. As Obama said, his aim was to "make the American people more comfortable" about government snooping on every aspect of their lives.
"America is not interested in spying on ordinary people," Obama said, as if documents had never been published exposing the government's seizure of records of all telephone calls placed in the United States, its dragnet of electronic communications around the world, its recording of license plates, and its photographing of letters.
This statement came one day after the New York Times reported that the NSA is "copying and then sifting through the contents of what is apparently most emails and other text-based communications that cross the border." It followed last week's exposure of the NSA's XKeyscore program, which allows analysts to listen to phone calls and read emails at will without a warrant or authorization from higher-ups.
In a tone of seeming incomprehension, Obama said, "And a general impression has, I think, taken hold, not only among the American public but also around the world, that somehow we're out there willy-nilly just sucking in information on e verybody and doing what we please with it."
But as everyone knows, that is precisely what the US government is doing.
In discussing the surveillance programs, Obama attempted to project a patient attitude toward public concerns. "It's right to ask questions about surveillance," he said. Only when the question of Snowden came up was there a flash of anger in his voice and a tightening in his face. "No, I don't think Mr. Snowden was a patriot," Obama said in response to a reporter's question.
He went on to accuse the whistle-blower of "putting at risk our national security and some very vital ways that we are able to get intelligence that we need to secure the country."
But Obama was caught in a flagrant contradiction. On the one hand, he implied that Snowden was a traitor. On the other, Obama acknowledged that he had been compelled to reassure th e public because of Snowden's revelations, without which the people would have remained in the dark.
The president spoke as though he was amazed that the actions of the government had deeply alarmed the population. He seemed surprised that anyone could doubt the hard work and good faith of the NSA. He lavished praise on the spy agencies, declaring that their operatives were "patriots" who "work every single day to keep us safe because they love this country and believe in our values."
Having made clear that all of the spying programs will continue, he announced a handful of vague and meaningless measures that will in no way lessen the programs' criminal character. "Some bolts needed to be tightened on some of the programs," he said.
"Tightening the bolts" on the vast bureaucratic machinery of state surveillance and putting a smiling face on the agencies and individuals who are targeting the American people for repression--such is Obama's response to the exposure of vast crimes against the US Constitution and the democratic rights of the people.
Less than three months ago, Obama gave a speech at the National Defense University in which he acknowledged that policies such as drone assassinations of American citizens and the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantanamo--for which he is responsible--called into question the viability of American democracy. Yet he now speaks as though the shredding of the Bill of Rights is merely a communications problem.
The White House press corps, pliant as always, did not challenge claims by Obama that everyone in the room knew to be lies. No reporter so much as hinted that the NSA programs were unconstitutional.
Nor did anyone raise questions about the global terror alert, which Obama cited at the start of his rema rks as justification for the surveillance programs. The fact that in the midst of a supposedly imminent threat Obama is leaving the capital to vacation at Martha's Vineyard was never broached.
Even more chilling than Obama's lies is his obliviousness to democratic principles. There is not a hint of concern for what Eisenhower warned of a half-century ago--the immense danger to democratic rights posed by the rise of a military-industrial complex. And this is under conditions of a present-day military-intelligence-industrial complex far beyond anything Eisenhower could have imagined.
Obama personifies the contempt for democratic rights and the Constitution, and the police state mentality that pervade all branches of the US government.
Barry Grey

Lavabit email shuts down after refusing to comply with "crimes against the American people"

By Steve James
10 August 2013
Texas-based secure email provider Lavabit has closed down its operations rather than "become complicit in crimes against the American people" by complying with demands from the US government, apparently for access to the mail company's servers and customer information.
On Wednesday, Lavabit, which has about 350,000 users, posted a notice on its website from owner Ladar Levinson.
Levinson wrote. "I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit."
He explained that after "significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you des erve to know what's going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests."
Levinson warned that "without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States."
The persecution of Lavabit by the US government is undoubtedly connected to the fact that the company's most well-known client is whistleblower Edward Snowden. It is also aimed at undermining the ability of internet users to easily engage in secure communication that cannot be accessed by the National Security Agency.
Two months ago Snowden, a former intelligence contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton, exposed the architecture of the unprecedented and all-pervasive internet surveillance regime operated by the US government's NSA and its allies around the world. Snowden is the target of an unprecedented international manhunt orchestrated from the US. He has been given temporary asylum in Russia, although his security and life remain in great danger.
Snowden is reported to have been a Lavabit user since 2010. It is likely that Lavabit has, at the very least, received orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) seeking metadata and content from Snowden's email history or similar request from the US surveillance agencies.
Those on the receiving end of FISA rulings are generally mandated to not reveal any information about what they have been asked to turn over. Should those under investigation become aware of the efforts directed against them, the government can issue a gag order insisting that nothing is made public.
Lavabit's action is likely in response to government demands that go beyond Snowden. According to the Wired website, court records show that in June Lavabit complied with a "routine search warrant targeting a child pornography suspect in a federal case in Maryland... Whatever compelled him [Levison] to shut down now must have been exceptional."
Lavabit may have received demands for the sort of blanket access to its services that, according to Snowden's exposures, has been given to the NSA by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook and a swathe of major US tech corporations under their PRISM and related spying programs.
Lavabit's encrypted email provision was viewed as among the most secure in the world. The company was founded in 2004 as Nerdshack LLC, specifically in response to concerns that Go ogle's popular Gmail service "was actively violating the privacy of its users by displaying ads related to keywords in their email," according to the company's website.
The company's small number of developers constructed a "highly convoluted" encryption of mail stored on Lavabit's servers, making mail inaccessible even to Lavabit employees. According to the accompany, this "ultimately makes it a massive pain in the rear for agencies like the NSA to decrypt."
"In theory, an attack with unlimited computing resources could use brute force to decipher the original message", the company noted, but "in practice, the key lengths Lavabit has chosen equal enough possible inputs that a brute force attack shouldn't be feasible for a long time to come."
The decision by Lavabit was followed by an announcement from Silent Circle, which offers a range of secure communication services, tha t it was pulling out of email provision entirely. Silent Circle was co-founded by Phil Zimmerman, the developer of PGP encryption software. According to a statement from the company, it had not yet been contacted by US law enforcement agencies, but "could see the writing on the wall." It suspended email because it could not guarantee security of its managed encryption service, in which Silent Circle handled encryption keys and certificates for its users.
In fact, Silent Circle explained, the SMTP, POP3 and IMAP protocols in use for email cannot be secure. These protocols necessarily generate metadata on senders, recipients and timestamps for every single email created, even if the content itself is encrypted.
Silent Circle explained that it intended to continue offering secure phone, video and text services with full end to end encryption.
In the end, there can be no technic al fix for the turn by the world's leading capitalist powers to saturation digital surveillance. The internet and related technologies point to the astonishingly progressive possibilities opened up by modern communications technology. But at the behest of a narrow super-rich minority, this is being utilized as a vast digital surveillance network where every action can be saved by the authorities for current and future targeting and repression.
Snowden's actions generated mass outrage at the extent of the operations he revealed. Opinion polls have consistently sided with Snowden against the US government. The response from the US government, however, has been to escalate its assault on free communications.
The turn to police states and universal surveillance can only be opposed by the transformation of popular anger at spying into a political mobilisation of working people in a struggle for world socialism. O nly on this basis can democratic rights be preserved, expanded and modern technology used to advance the interests of all humanity.

NSA reading content of Americans' international communications

By Thomas Gaist
9 August 2013
Thursday saw yet another revelation in the ongoing exposure of a cluster of unconstitutional surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other agencies of the US government. In a front page article, the New York Times revealed that vast quantities of emails sent and received by Americans communicating with people abroad are swept up, "cloned," and combed through by NSA analysts, on the basis that the messages contain certain words or phrases deemed suspicious by the government.
According to the Times, international data-sweeps target "apparently most" of the email traffic flowing to and from the US. The newspaper writes: "The NSA is temporarily copying and then sifting through the contents of what is apparently most e-mails and other text-based communications that cross the border... While it has long been known t hat the agency conducts extensive computer searches of data it vacuums up overseas, that it is systematically searching--without warrants--through the contents of Americans' communications that cross the border reveals more about the scale of its secret operations."
The Times cited congressional testimony last June by NSA Deputy Director John Inglis, who replied to a lawmaker who asked if the agency listened to the phone calls or read the emails of American citizens by saying, "We do not target the content of US person communications without a specific warrant anywhere on the earth."
These words were carefully chosen to conceal a lie. NSA analysts supposedly do not "target" Americans, they just regularly and systematically seize their emails and examine their contents, without a warrant, if they happen to contain any one of an unknown number of "target" words.
Under t he email and text message vacuuming procedure, an individual need not be in contact with someone targeted for surveillance to have his communications read. It is sufficient to mention the name of the targeted group, or any other word potentially associated with that group. According to the Times, no Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court ruling regarding such "about the target" searches of electronic communications has been disclosed to the public.
The Times article, which, given the number of unnamed senior intelligence officials it cites, has all the earmarks of a damage control piece written in collaboration with the NSA, nevertheless it reveals factual information that demolishes claims by Obama and other US officials that the there are no mass surveillance operations targeting the American people.
It vindicates warnings by former NSA contractor-turned whistle-blower Edward Snowd en that NSA analysts are eavesdropping on the private voice and written communications of millions of Americans, as well as millions more people internationally.
The article was published just one day after Obama declared on the nationally televised "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" that "there is no spying on Americans" and that "we don't have a domestic surveillance program."
The government is capturing phone calls, emails and texts from every American. As Glenn Greenwald reported in the Guardian in early June, the NSA collected 97 billion pieces of intelligence all around the world in March of 2013 through a program called Boundless Informant, including 3 billion from the US.
Responding to Obama's claims on the Leno show, Judge Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News senior judicial analyst, said former NSA staffers have corroborated that "the government has the ability to access from storage the actual emails and texts that every American has sent in the past two-and-a-half years and the sound of telephone calls, the voices on the calls, that Americans have made in the past two-and-a-half years."
As Napolitano observed, Judge Roger Vinson signed a court order on April 25, 2013 directing the telecom giant Verizon to surrender telephone information on 113 million customers between the dates of April 25 and July 19.
The Center for Constitutional Rights released a statement at the time of Vinson's ruling, saying, "This order from the FISA court is the broadest surveillance order to ever have been issued: it requires no level of suspicion and applies to all Verizon subscribers anywhere in the US."
The lying from every corner of the US political establishment to conceal the police state spying operations is rampant and systematic. When asked durin g a Senate hearing earlier this year, "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans," Obama's director of national intelligence, James Clapper, committed the crime of perjuring himself before Congress. "No, sir," he replied.
Former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden has made provocative statements in recent days, speaking out in favor of the surveillance programs and denouncing anti-surveillance "activists."
Warrantless mass data collection began under Hayden, who was the NSA head during the launching of STELLARWIND, the Bush administration mass surveillance program. In a moment of striking candor, Hayden expressed his contempt for sections of the population that are anti-surveillance and pro-Snowden, while suggesting that these elements may launch retaliatory operations against the US should Snowden be brought to trial.
"If and wh en our government grabs Edward Snowden, and brings him back here to the United States for trial, what does this group do?" asked Hayden, referring to Snowden supporters as "nihilists, anarchists, activists, LulzSec, Anonymous, twenty-somethings who haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years."
Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union said that "dragnet surveillance will be poisonous to the freedoms of inquiry and association" and described the massive scale of the programs: "The NSA has cast a massive dragnet over Americans' international communications, collecting and monitoring virtually all of them, and retaining some untold number of them in government databases. This is precisely the kind of generalized spying that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit."

The US terror scare<


5 August 2013
The latest in a long series of US terror scares since the September 11, 2001 attacks has unfolded over the last three days, following a well-worn pattern.
Top officials of the executive branch issue vague and ominous alerts. Congressional leaders, after closed-door briefings by the intelligence agencies, echo the warnings. The media amplifies the alarm uncritically, seeking to stampede the public. Not a single voice is raised to question the claims or essential premises of the scare campaign.
A number of questions are raised by the global travel alert and closure of US diplomatic facilities throughout the Middle East announced on Friday.
First, there is the timing of the measures. They come after nearly two months of nonstop revelations about massive US government spying on the American people, including the coll ection of both metadata and the content of the telephone conversations and e-mail of virtually every person in the United States.
The Obama administration has been thrown on the defensive by the information made public by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, with the assistance of Guardian newspaper columnist Glenn Greenwald.
Only two days before the State Department alert, the White House received a rebuff when Russia granted one-year temporary asylum to Snowden. This allowed him to leave the transit zone at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and take up residence in Russia, freeing him from the threat of immediate deportation to a US prison cell or torture chamber.
At the same time, opinion polls continue to show that despite the smear campaign by the Obama administration and leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties, the majority of the American people regard Snowden as a whistle-blower engaged in a principled exposure of US government crimes, not a spy or traitor. A similar majority sees the mass surveillance by the NSA as a threat to democratic rights.
The congressional leaders who trooped to the television talk shows Sunday morning cited the latest terror scare as proof of the value of the NSA surveillance dragnet. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN, "The NSA program is proving its worth yet again... if you want to gut it, you make us much less safe and you're putting our nation at risk."
Saxby Chambliss, top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, waved the bloody shirt of the 9/11 attacks, telling NBC's "Meet the Press" that "there has been an awful lot of chatter out there...about the planning that's going on, very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11." He added, referring to the NSA spying, "If we did not have these programs, then we simply would not be able to listen in on the bad guys."
The US media has played its usual reprehensible role, lining up to uncritically report the government's claims as fact and promote an atmosphere of anxiety. There was not the slightest hint that previous such alerts have proven to be baseless, and no reference to the government's record of lying to the people--from the lies used to justify the invasion of Iraq to the lies from Obama administration officials about NSA spying.
In its account, the New York Times alluded to the real political motives behind the government's alarmist warnings. "Some analysts and Congressional officials," it wrote, "suggested Friday that emphasizing a terrorist threat now was a good way to divert attention from the uproar over the NSA's data-collection programs, and if it showed the intercepts uncovered a possible plot, even better."
Obama administration officials have provided no factual substantiation for their claims of a new and imminent terror threat, and they have admitted that no specific targets have been identified. The State Department bulletin issued Friday cited only the "potential" for terrorists to attack tourist areas and subway, rail, air and maritime services, a characterization, while deliberately chilling, so vague as to be meaningless.
This is not to say that terrorist attacks on US government facilities or even American citizens traveling abroad may not take place. US foreign policy, based on the constant threat or use of military violence against those deemed to be adversaries, to say nothing of frequent assassinations by drone-fired missile in a half-dozen countries, combined with support for brutal oil sheikdoms and Israeli repression of the Palestinians, continuously incites retaliation which may take the form of terrori sm.
Moreover, there are sections of the American state and intelligence apparatus that would see such attacks as an opportunity for expanding their operations both at home and abroad and accumulating ever-greater resources. The US government has ample means at its disposal to engineer such a provocation.
It is a well-established but little-reported fact that virtually every terrorist attack or attempted attack in the United States from September 11, 2001 to last April's Boston Marathon bombing was carried out by individuals who were either acting in collaboration with US government agents or had been under police/intelligence surveillance.
While the White House and the media point fingers at Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, there has been no reference in the course of the media firestorm to the tacit US alliance with Al Qaeda in the Syrian civil war or the link s with radical Islamists in the overthrow and murder of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
There have been frequent comments in the American media over the past several months, particularly in the wake of the NSA revelations, that a major new terrorist attack might provide the impetus for a sudden reversal in public hostility to the growing power of the military-intelligence complex. In this view, the United States is "one terrorist attack away from martial law."
The model for this, as in much of the buildup of military-police power in America, is Hitler's Germany. It was the 1933 Reichstag Fire--a supposed terrorist attack on the parliament building by a communist worker--that provided the pretext for Hitler's assumption of dictatorial powers. It was later proven that the attack was organized and directed by the Nazi Gestapo.
There are, of course, significant differences between Ame rica in 2013 and Germany in 1933. But the extreme social antagonisms that drove German capitalism to resort to the Nazis to suppress the working class are being reproduced within the United States today. Nowhere in the world is the social gulf between the ruling elite and the vast majority of working people so acute as in America.
Moreover, the national security apparatus is an increasingly independent and assertive factor in American life, with military, police and intelligence operations accounting for nearly 90 percent of the federal government workforce--nearly 3 million people, a figure that rises to 5.5 million when military reservists and military/intelligence/security contractors are included.
It is this combination of mounting social inequality and the growth of militarism and repression that poses such a danger to the democratic rights of the American people. The Obama administration, far from repr esenting a break with its predecessor, has carried the Bush administration's repressive buildup to unprecedented dimensions.
For more than a decade, the so-called war on terror has been used as the overarching pretext for the erection of the infrastructure of a police state, including the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon's Northern Command, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, military commissions, indefinite detention, extralegal drone assassinations and pervasive spying on the population.
These preparations are now encountering increasing resistance from working people in the United States and internationally, expressed initially in the popular support for the exposure of US government crimes by Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.
The defense of these courageous individuals is an obligation of working people, youth and students i n the United States and internationally. The cause of freedom for those targeted by US imperialism for exposing its crimes must become the starting point for an offensive in defense of democratic rights. This movement must be consciously developed as part of a political movement of the American and international working class against capitalism, which is the source of war, social inequality and dictatorship.
Patrick Martin

The Detroit election

9 August 2013
In primary elections for Detroit mayor on Tuesday, two right-wing candidates, Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon, advanced to a runoff that will be held in November. The most significant feature of the vote was the extremely low voter turnout.
Detroit is in the midst of a financial crisis that has been the focus of national and international attention. An unelected "emergency manager" has thrown the city into bankruptcy in the teeth of popular opposition, in order to rip up contracts and impose brutal cuts in city workers' pensions and health benefits, privatize and slash social services, and sell off public assets, including the world famous art collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts--all for the purpose of protecting the investments of the banks and speculators who hold city bonds.
Yet a mere 18 percent of registered voters went to the polls. This mass a bstention is an expression of the alienation of the working class from the entire political system. The vast majority of Detroiters believe that their votes count for nothing and that, whoever is elected, they will have no say in the policies of the government. In this belief, they are absolutely right.
This sentiment is shared by working people across the country. The threadbare trappings of democracy can no longer conceal the iron rule of a corporate-financial oligarchy. The pretense that there are significant differences between the two major parties is increasingly absurd, despite the demagogic efforts of President Obama and the Democratic Party to posture as defenders of the "middle class." Particularly since the Wall Street crash of 2008, government at all levels--national, state and local, whether headed by Republicans or Democrats--has revealed itself to be the instrument of the richest one percent.
Unl imited funds have been made available to bail out and further enrich the financial and corporate criminals who are responsible for the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression. At the same time, mass layoffs, wage-cutting and the destruction of education, health care, pensions and social services are justified with the lie that "there is no money."
In attacking the working class, the two parties march in lockstep. In Detroit, the bankruptcy and attack on city workers and social services is being carried out with the support of the Democratic mayor and the Republican governor.
Obama personifies the antagonism between the entire political setup and the basic needs of the vast majority of the population. He won the election in 2008 by presenting himself as a progressive alternative to the hated administration of George W. Bush and its policies of war, social reaction and attacks on democratic rights. No sooner was he in office when he then began to repudiate his campaign promises.
Obama has intensified the right-wing policies of Bush: continuing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and launching new ones in Libya and Syria, deepening the attacks on democratic rights, and escalating the assault on the living standards of the working class. His rejection of any federal aid to Detroit signifies his administration's support for the bankruptcy of Detroit to be used as a model for slashing the pensions of workers all over the country.
Obama's reelection--against a multi-millionaire who made his fortune as a Wall Street asset-stripper--reflected the collapse of the popular illusions that helped propel him to power four years earlier. Voter turnout in 2012 fell by 10 million people from 2008. Obama's own vote fell sharply, making him the first president in more than 60 years to be reelected with fewer votes in his secon d term than in his first.
Only 57.5 percent of the voting-age population participated in the 2012 elections, the lowest turnout in any presidential election since 2000. This was a continuation of a long-term decline in voter participation in the US. Turnout in midterm elections has fallen by nearly ten percentage points since the early 1970s.
Every two or four years, the American people are given a choice between the representatives of two right-wing parties, both financed and controlled by Wall Street and integrated into the military/intelligence apparatus. The elections are dominated by corporate cash and manipulated by the corporate-controlled media.
In the Detroit mayoral election, the essential fraud of the entire process is transparent. No matter which of the winners of Tuesday's primary is elected in November--corporate millionaire Duggan or former police chief and curre nt county sheriff Napoleon--the new mayor will exercise no power so long as Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who wields dictatorial powers in behalf of the banks, remains at his post.
The trade unions signaled their support for the bankruptcy and the assault on Detroit workers by backing Napoleon--the cop-turned law-and-order politician--in the primary vote. That workers have no confidence in these organizations was reflected in the fact that Duggan far outpolled the former police chief, despite the fact that he ran as a write-in candidate, having been excluded from the ballot on a technicality.
Any illusions among Detroiters that Duggan represents a genuine alternative to the status quo will be quickly and rudely shattered should he be elected in November. Nevertheless, there was an element of a protest vote in his emergence as the top vote-getter. Workers in Detroit, whose living standards have steadily declined during 40 years in which the city was administered by a corrupt and affluent layer of African American politicians, are fed up.
Workers have nothing in common with this political establishment--consisting of union officials, representatives of the official civil rights organizations, ministers, academics, businessmen--which administers Detroit and other cities in behalf of the US ruling elite as a whole. Social polarization among African Americans is even more extreme than in the population as a whole, the result of the elevation of a narrow layer on the basis of racial politics and programs such as affirmative action, alongside a devastating decline in the living standards of the broad masses of African American workers.
In 2011, the wealthiest 10 percent of African American households controlled 67 percent of the wealth of all African American households, compared to 59 percent just three years prior.
Working people in Detroit, and all over the country, are looking for alternatives. They will not find them in any section of the political establishment or its two big business parties.
The alienation of working people from the political establishment is part of a process that leads inevitably to great social upheavals. To this point, the political radicalization of the working class has taken a largely passive form. That will change.
The Socialist Equality Party and its mayoral candidate, D'Artagnan Collier, alone spoke for the working class and fought for its interests in the election campaign. Only the SEP opposed the bankruptcy and urged workers to reject any and all demands for cuts or concessions.
Collier's campaign was focused on developing an independent movement of workers in the Detroit area to throw out the emergency manager, replace the C ity Council with a Workers Council, and implement socialist policies--including public ownership of the corporations and banks--to guarantee every worker a decent-paying job, health care, a pension, quality public education and decent housing.
He called for workers in their workplaces, schools and neighborhoods to establish new, democratic organizations of working class struggle--workers' action committees--independent of the unions and the Democratic Party, to organize demonstrations and strikes and build up a movement for a general strike of workers in the Detroit area.
The SEP campaign aroused great interest and warm support from workers and young people, including firefighters who initiated protests against the cuts, and tenants who are fighting against plans to evict them to make way for real estate speculators.
Following Tuesday's election, the SEP intends to intensify it s fight to mobilize workers in Detroit and nationally and build a new leadership in the working class. Just as the ruling class is seeking to make Detroit a model for the assault on working people throughout the US, the working class must launch the Battle of Detroit as the model and inspiration for working class struggles nationally and internationally.
Barry Grey and Andre Damon

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr: Detroit workers were "dumb, lazy, happy and rich"

By Eric London and Barry Grey
7 August 2013
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published August 3, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr gives vent to his contempt for working people and indicates the reactionary, pro-corporate agenda that underlies the bankruptcy of Detroit.
The article, under the headline "How Detroit Can Rise Again," is a gushing endorsement of Orr and the financial parasites for whom he speaks.
A millionaire bankruptcy lawyer with close Wall Street connections, Orr has been granted dictatorial powers to oversee the stripping of public assets and gutting of workers' pensions, health benefits and social services. With the bipartisan support of Republican Governor Rick Snyder and Democratic Mayor David Bing, he threw Detroit, a city of 700,000 people, into bankruptcy last month.
Orr intends to us e the federal bankruptcy court as the medium for ripping up union contracts and overriding the Michigan Constitution, which guarantees the pension benefits of public employees, in order to slash the benefits of 21,000 retirees and 10,000 active city workers.
He has pledged to sell off the city's garbage collection services to private investors as early as November, threatening the jobs of hundreds of city workers, and recently hired Christie's auction house to appraise the world famous collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts for possible sale to help pay off the banks and big bondholders who hold the city's debt.
Since the July 18 bankruptcy filing, media commentaries have proliferated on the theme of Detroit as a model for similar attacks on pensions, health benefits and social services in cities across the US. The Detroit bankruptcy, which is being coordinated with the Obama administration, marks a new st age in the assault on the living standards of the American and international working class.
Meanwhile, the city, in collaboration with Orr, is planning to hand over $285 million in public funds to billionaire Mike Ilitch to subsidize the building of a new hockey arena in mid-Detroit, part of a scheme to slash services in working class neighborhoods while transforming sections of the downtown area into a residential and commercial haven for the well-to-do. This provides an indication of how the bankruptcy of the city will be used to further enrich an array of bankers, real estate developers and corporate lawyers who are gathering like vultures over the financial corpse of the former world capital of auto production.
The Journal article presents these forces as agents of progress, who are obliged to fight a rearguard action against the dark forces of ignorance and sloth--that is, the working class. Orr , according to the author, Allysia Finley, is a visionary "who exudes a contagious energy and optimism about the future," and whose "strategy is to 'put the key ingredients in place'" to "nurture growth" in Detroit, despite being "bullied" by the "labor class."
The article calls the pockets of wealth created by "pioneer" entrepreneurs, whose employees "grow organic vegetables such as corn on nearby vacant lots," as "the frontier of civilization in Detroit." The author fails to note that many of the vacant lots are the result of decades of corporate downsizing and plunder, which have stripped Detroit of all but one of the dozens of auto plants that formerly provided hundreds of thousands of decent-paying jobs.
The elitist and profoundly anti-democratic outlook that pervades the article is summed up most succinctly by Orr himself, who tells the Journal, "For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy a nd rich." The period of post-World War II economic growth, he complains, "allowed us to have a covenant that held if you had an eighth grade education, you'll get 30 years of a good job and a pension and great health care, but you don't have to worry about what's going to come."
What is the bankers' bagman saying? He clearly considers as absurd a situation where working people can expect to be able to obtain a secure job that provides a decent income and the minimal requirements of life, such as health care and retirement pay. Of course, even at the height of the post-war boom, workers had to struggle to provide decent conditions for their families and the possibility of a college education for their children. But Orr can barely contain his class venom when speaking of social conditions that were the products of massive and bloody struggles waged by previous generations of workers against the auto bosses and bankers.
This phenomenon--what other representatives of his class have called the "middle class worker"--is to be eradicated and the working class returned to its "proper" status as objects of unbridled exploitation, impoverished and without rights.
As Orr suggests in the interview, basic services such as public education, fire protection, garbage collection and public transportation are to be reduced, privatized or eliminated. "I prefer to think of it as 'upgrading' because some of those services are anachronistic," he says.
The Journal article evinces the anti-democratic outlook that goes hand in hand with the class war program being spearheaded by Orr. "People say I'm a dictator," Orr tells the newspaper. "I don't appreciate that, but if I'm going to be one, I'm going to be benevolent."
The Journal notes, "While Mr. Orr is optimistic, he acknowledges that there is 'a risk element' attached to ceding control back to the city's duly elected leaders..."
In other words, it would be far better for cities (and, by extension, the entire country) to dispense with elections altogether and turn control over to "benevolent dictators" such as Orr, who can more efficiently implement the economic and social agenda of the corporations and banks.
The financial aristocracy for which the Wall Street Journal and Orr speak is well aware that its attempt to turn the clock back 100 years and wipe out all of the social gains of the working class will provoke growing social opposition. The type of preparations that are being made to deal with this challenge are indicated in the interview.
"In the 120 days since [Orr] started, things have already begun looking up," the author enthuses. The city "has placed orders for new Tasers, vests, cars an d PCs for the police department..."

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