For the Economy, Issue Is: Who Decides?
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney held their first debate in Denver October 3. The topic was domestic policy and questions focused mainly on the economy. Much of the monopoly media coverage after the debate focused on issues of form, with many declaring Romney the winner. He was more aggressive and assertive. Obama, evidently trying to be presidential and above the fray, was instead seen as too cool and disinterested. Nearly all the discussion on who “won” centered on these issues of form, not content. The “how” was emphasized, how they looked and sounded, not the “what” of the impact their platforms would have on solving, or not solving, problems like the rights to jobs, pensions, housing, healthcare and education and on-going aggressive U.S. wars and their impact abroad and at home.
In addition, the media continued to contribute to an atmosphere of disinformation by presenting themselves as “fact” checkers. This has become common in elections known for their very negative advertising using repeated lies.
For the debates, the monopoly media went out of their way to say various assertions made by the candidates have repeatedly been shown to be false yet continue to be made. One would think the media would stop contributing to the spread of falsehoods by not themselves repeating them, again, and again. Or at least analyze the significance of using a method of repeating “big lies.” Instead, the “fact” checkers repeat such falsehoods while also missing the most central issues. They join in fostering an atmosphere of doubt and distrust at a time when voters want to discuss solutions to the problems society faces. Such an atmosphere serves disinformation, which blocks the right of voters to be informed, to have the information and analysis they need to contend with the elections and more generally with their concerns, such as ending U.S. wars, taking the economy off a war footing and providing for the rights to jobs, housing, education and healthcare. The debates themselves and the coverage of them do not provide the basis for an informed vote, a right vital to modern democracy.
The central issue for the economy is that of who decides? Currently the monopoly owners decide and act in service to their narrow interests. The workers produce the wealth and embrace the stand of All for One and One for All. The vision of the working class is one of organizing the economy to provide for the rights of all, as collectives, individuals and for society as a whole and to contribute to the same abroad. We do not want or need a war economy, serving U.S. empire.
The workers are the producers of wealth and constitute the majority of the population — why not be the decision makers? That is the discussion and debate required. Key facts to check are the inability of the current war economy, in the hands of the monopoly owners, to provide for the rights of the people. And what results would there be with a new direction for the economy, one that put the economy in service to guaranteeing rights at home and contributing to the same abroad?
A new direction for the economy would be consistent with the anti-war stand of the majority. A new direction would place the claims of the workers on the wealth they produce in first place and those of government, as representative of society and socially responsible for its needs, in second place. The monopoly owners would be restricted to third place. A new direction would have U.S. workers contributing to defending the rights of workers abroad and establishing relations of mutual respect and benefit. It is this new direction and its necessity for solving the problems of today that needs to be debated, elaborated and argued out.
Whose Economy? Our Economy! [TOP]
International News & Views
The Strengthening of Private Monopoly Rule and the Necessity for Economic and Political Renewal
Canadian free trade agreements beginning 25 years ago with the United States represent monopoly capital's tightening grip over the country's political and economic affairs. Political and economic power has gradually consolidated in the hands of the most powerful private interests mostly centered in the U.S. This economic and political power has moved to crush any blocks within the national public and private institutions to the exercise of its dominance and monopoly right, including Parliament, the National Assembly, Legislatures, trade unions and other organizations of civil society.
Private monopoly power is the merger of banking and industrial capital into finance capital. Finance capital has used free trade as a weapon to expand and consolidate its grip on all aspects of political and economic life. Its base is found within the United States of North American Monopolies but its reach is anywhere within the imperialist system of states, especially those states within the Anglo-U.S. sphere of influence.
Free trade represents the end of the raison d'état of the original Canada as a nation-building project to block U.S. continentalism. Today attempts are made to establish a new raison d'état in which Canada is a vassal within a United States of North American Monopolies, dedicated to the U.S. imperialist striving for world domination as it competes with others within the imperialist system of states. This is a system that the global monopolies use to oppress and exploit the peoples of the world and their natural resources and the value produced from their work.
The financial oligarchy has used the private monopolies to conquer Canada and Mexico to establish their dominance in North America and extend their tentacles beyond with free trade arrangements with others within the U.S.-dominated system of states including Canada with Mexico, Israel, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia, Jordan, the non-European Union states of the European Free Trade Association, Panama (presently before Parliament) and multi-state free trade arrangements in the works with the European Union (CETA) and most Pacific/Asian states (TPP) excluding specifically China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. This expansion along with predatory wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Syria, and direct political interference and threats against all countries in the world is most commonly referred to as neo-liberal globalization.
The economic figures since the signing of the free trade agreement in 1987 tell a tale of rising dominance of the largest global monopolies. According to a new study by BMO Nesbitt Burns, total investment in Canada originating from the U.S. (in current dollars) rose from $76 billion in 1988 to $326 billion in 2011. During the same period, investment into the U.S. originating in Canada went from $55 billion to $276 billion. This movement and merging of finance capital forms the economic base of Canada's annexation within the U.S. Empire from which neo-liberal globalization extends its reach throughout the world economically, militarily and politically.
The level of bilateral commodity trade between Canada and the U.S. although important suggests that the heart of free trade is the unrestricted movement of monopoly capital. Bilateral exports with the U.S. totaled about $100 billion a year in the late 1980s, rose to $350 billion a year by 2000 under free trade, flattened out after that, declined during the 2008-10 crises and now still remain below the amount for 2000. The BMO study says, as a per cent of Canada's nominal gross domestic product in current Canadian dollars just before free trade, exports to the U.S. represented 17 per cent of Canada's GDP. By 2000, those exports had reached their pinnacle at 33 per cent and since have fallen back to 19 per cent just above the pre-free trade percentage.
A significant change has occurred in how Canadians acquire their living since free trade. The most startling change has been the loss of manufacturing jobs. In the first two years of the FTA, 200,000 manufacturing jobs disappeared. A partial recovery occurred in the mid-nineties but during the last decade, the wrecking of manufacturing has accelerated. Statistics Canada reports that from the low 20 per cent range of manufacturing relative to the total GDP prior to free trade, the percentage fell steadily to 15.6 per cent in 2005 and down further to 13 per cent by 2010. Some of this decline can be attributed to greater productivity but the majority is a result of deliberate conscious policies of the dominant global monopolies to outsource manufacturing to other countries including the U.S. The political rule of free trade and its unrestricted movement of capital allow the global monopolies the freedom to wreck the economy, privatize or otherwise degrade social programs and public services including regulations governing corporate behavior, make regressive changes to the taxation regime moving towards more individual taxes such as the GST and user fees and away from corporate taxes, and do whatever else that serves their narrow monopoly interests.
The political rule and concentrated expression of free trade is the exercise of monopoly right over public right in all matters and domains, and the dominance of private monopoly interests within the public political institutions. The rights of all, especially the working class, are under extreme pressure. All important political matters are decided in camera by those private monopoly interests directly involved and the executives of their political representatives. All forms of civil and labor rule and rights considered important to establish equilibrium under the Canadian raison d'état in opposition to U.S. continentalism such as the Canadian Wheat Board are now abolished, simply not utilized or under pressure to disband.
The challenge facing the working class and its allies is to step forward as the social force capable to establish a new Canadian raison d'état within a nation-building state based on recognition of the rights of all and the sovereignty of all nations, which means in practice the ending of all military agreements with the U.S. and participation in its predatory wars and immediate exit from NATO and NORAD;
• self-reliance of the economy with manufacturing as its foundation and the guarantee of the well-being of the people under all circumstances;
• equal trade for mutual benefit with all nations regardless of their political regime, which means in practice the annulment of all current free trade agreements and the ending of any use of the dominant currencies to settle trade or as a reserve fund;
• the inalienable right of the Canadian people and First Nations to ownership and control of all their natural resources;
• the inalienable right of the Canadian people to control the decision-making process for all development and affairs that affect the socialized economy and the social and natural environment;
• the empowerment of the sovereign people within modern renewed political institutions that guarantee the right of the people to govern themselves and their own affairs.
Public Right Yes! Monopoly Right No! [TOP]
When the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary (TEPJF) declared Enrique Peña Nieto president elect of Mexico in this year's Mexican presidential election, it laid bare the anti-democratic power of the political mafia imposed on the Mexican people's popular will. It shed light on the big corporations' dictatorship over the party system and the alternation between the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN) as the party in power.
The deception is vast; the TEPJF claims to be pure as the driven snow however, it validated the election before the Fiscal Unit of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) has published its opinion on how Peña Nieto acquired his campaign funds and how they were spent. Instead, the TEPJF cynically announced that the fiscal report on the campaigns will be given in February 2013. It even gave its ruling without conclusive information on the campaign reports to be delivered in October.
The TEPJF didn't conduct a thorough review of the electoral process and, like the IFE, acted as an agent of PRI's fraud. The Mexican people saw through the cover-up of an election, which was neither free nor fair nor legitimate as per Article 41 of the Constitution.
And the supposed votes Peña received? Of the 82 million Mexicans of voting age only 23 percent, a paltry minority, chose the "golden boy of Atlacomulco." [Atlacomulco is Peña Nieto's hometown — VOR Ed. Note.] This feeble result came despite all the illegal propaganda over seven years that Peña Nieto undertook at public expense as Governor of the State of Mexico, along with the support of Televisa and the entire media's disinformation apparatus during the campaign. Not to mention the millions of votes bought through pre-paid gift cards for the Soriana grocery chain and the Monex bank, as well as calling cards, construction materials, employment promises, payments from the state's social benefit programs, animals and other gifts, or otherwise extorted through threats and blackmail. The PRI exceeded campaign spending by 336 million pesos, more than 15 times the allotted amount. Meanwhile the IFE permitted inequity in the process that saw nearly 4,000 public appearances by Peña Nieto. As well, there are all the cases of electoral fraud in various regions of the country, particularly in Chiapas and Yucatan such as rigged polls and pundits hired to enforce the perception of Peña Nieto's imminent triumph.
More than three-quarters of Mexicans rejected PRI's return and its corrupt governance that seeks the eternal alternation of PRI and PAN as the party in power to pursue the same politics and submission to Washington's dictate that the Mexican state must serve the oligarchy. What's more, at least four million Mexicans are actively engaged and tenaciously pursuing change in Mexico. This struggle for democracy is unfolding in Mexico City and in almost all the Mexican states; there is a constant militant mobilization. Of the two opposing camps there are those who wish to impose PRI's return -- the elites and financial oligarchy which benefit from neo-liberal policies -- versus the people who are victimized by these policies and are searching for an organization to move the situation forward and which step by step can develop itself. Its first task is to unite those who are still disinformed or manipulated by the media propaganda in the service of those in power.
Externally, the U.S. empire has intervened decisively in favor of PRI's return, which serves its own interests by consolidating bipartisanship in the Mexican government and feigning democracy with the "alternation" of parties. Peña Nieto has promised to continue the "war on drugs" and U.S.-Mexico military integration, open up Mexico's state-owned petroleum company PEMEX to "partnerships" with private companies, and faithfully follow U.S. neo-liberal policies, as well as to serve the interests of foreign corporations by preserving and deepening their privileges. The fight against the 2012 election fraud and PRI is vital for the vast majority of Mexicans because of the urgent need to defend sovereignty and rights.
The overwhelming majority of people know that this election was rigged, bought and unconstitutional. Those who have taken action across the country are increasing and have made progress. For this very reason the campaigns to demoralize and repress the people are deepening. But this is not time for the democratic movement to despair but to take action. The people of Mexico are fed up. They are taking action to put an end to an entire era of corruption, impunity and injustice. They are preparing to end the old world of subservience, violence and chaos in favor of a new world of sovereignty and rights, peace and well-being. The old refuses to die and brazenly and cynically tries to impose its domination. The new brings all the strength of youth and the future, the potential of the working class, indigenous peoples, women and patriots. The old is rotten and cannot prevail. The new will tenaciously resist until victory. The first step is democratic renewal so the people have the decision-making power in their hands.
Our time is now! The future is ours!
(Pablo Moctezuma Barragán is editor for the newspaper Mexteki and national leader of the Mexican Workers' Union.)
People March for Chavez' Victory and in Defense of Bolivarian Revolution
On October 7, more than 16 million registered voters will vote in the presidential elections in Venezuela. They will choose between the re-election of President Hugo Chavez, the candidate supported by the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP) and Henrique Capriles, the candidate of the right-wing neo-liberal Coalition for Democratic Unity (MUD). 
Ten days before the election, the independent polling firms Consultores and International Consulting Services (ICS) predicted President Chavez would win. Consultores gave figures of 57.5 per cent to 42.5 per cent in favor of Chavez and similarly ICS gave and 60.01 per cent to 39.2 per cent.
In keeping with the tradition that each district organizes a march to accompany their favorite candidate, millions of Venezuelans have been taking part in these marches across the country since the start of the election period chanting in unison, "Chavez is the country's heart!"
Speaking at one of these popular assemblies, on September 26 in the state of Falcon, President Chavez said, "We must win overwhelmingly on October 7. For this it is necessary that we begin immediate mobilization in every neighborhood, every street, every village, every city, everywhere so that not a single vote is left out." Referring to his lead over the right-wing candidate, Chavez emphasized that even if it is a given that he will win the election, "We need to work hard, no one should let their guard down, we have not only the obligation to win, but to have a strong win."
This call for a decisive win aims to demonstrate support for the Bolivarian revolution and neutralize the intentions of the opposition to destabilize the country by refusing to recognize the election results. Indeed, MUD executive secretary, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, referring to the possibility that political organizations that are members of his coalition will not recognize the official election results, said MUD will only respect results that they consider to be "trustworthy." This statement was made two days after the agitator Yon Goicoechea published an article in the newspaper El Universal, entitled "Fraud Is Not Free." Goicoechea claims that the October 7 results "will not be determined by facts, as today it is known that Henrique [Capriles] will win that contest. What there will be that night is a military decision which, being a mistaken one, will generate a massacre." The article suggests that the National Electoral Council will commit fraud during the elections and claims that opposition supporters will take to the streets to defend their vote, likening this to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. Goicoechea was one of the principal organizers of the 2007 protests by student groups opposed to the Chavez government, which were ultimately aligned with the reactionary forces that serve U.S. interests. It should be noted that for this activity, Goicoechea was awarded the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty in 2008, worth U.S.$50,000, by the U.S. libertarian think tank the Cato Institute.
At the same time, former U.S. ambassador Patrick Duddy, who was expelled from Venezuela in 2008 for collaborating in a coup with a group of military officers, wrote a paper published this September by the U.S. Council on Foreign relations calling for sanctions against Venezuela "if the election results appear fraudulent." Duddy writes that "the United States should encourage international pressure," and "freeze individual bank accounts of key figures involved or responsible and seize assets in the United States" or "arrange for the proceeds of Venezuelan government-owned corporate entities to be held in escrow accounts." On the issue of military options he asserted that "While Chavez loyalists dominate the Venezuelan high command, it is not clear to what extent they control the middle ranks." This is a clear reference to U.S. intentions to bribe a fringe of the Venezuelan military.
In June, Robert Zoellick, then president of the World Bank said just before his resignation, "Chavez's days are numbered. If his subsidies to Cuba and Nicaragua are cut, those regimes will be in trouble." He referred to U.S. support for Capriles, who if elected plans to restore "favorable" relations with the United States and review assistance programs and alliances with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
In addition, for the past several weeks in the United States, monopoly media such as Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and the Miami Herald have been spreading disinformation by repeating the story that Capriles is gaining ground, that Chavez's days are numbered, that Chavez uses groups linked to the Bolivarian revolution to create an atmosphere of threats, terror and vandalism. They even accuse President Chavez of manipulating information in the media, while everyone knows that the majority of the print, television and radio media in Venezuela are in the opposition's hands.
Finally, scenarios to destabilize the country on the night of October 7 and the following days are being implemented, with the clear intent to overthrow President Chavez, in addition to the increasing acts of sabotage happening across the country. Most recently there has been the sabotage of wiring in electrical substations causing blackouts in Caracas and other regions.
This situation highlights why President Chavez so vigorously insists on the importance this election has for the future of the Bolivarian revolution and the Venezuelan nation. He called on Venezuelans to not permit a return to the situation of the 1980s, underscoring that a vote for his continued leadership of the Bolivarian revolution "is a vote for the youth, the future, security, stability and development."
1. The Great Patriotic Pole (Gran Polo Patriótico, GPP), includes the left-wing parties such as the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Communist Party of Venezuela, the party Fatherland for All and social organizations and unions and comprises more than 34,000 organizing committees.
2. The Coalition for Democratic Unity (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, MUD), is an alliance of right-wing parties opposed to the Bolivarian revolution that has close ties with the United States. It recently lost four smaller parties as members when a confidential document was released revealing the true neo-liberal agenda that its candidate Capriles, intends to pursue if elected President.