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Monday, November 28, 2005

Anti-War Insurgent: Building an Effective Movement Against the War in Phoenix

From the looks of it, the local anti-war leadership is stuck in a rut. The protest on Monday the 28th looked like an almost perfect copy of the September 24th (S24) demonstration: same location (24th St and Camelback); same target (Jon Kyl); same tactic (sign-holding and praying). But the last time we did this it had no discernable affect. Jon Kyl did not change his position on the war and the killing in Iraq continued unabated. One wonders why, then, the local anti-war leadership has chosen to repeat itself. Do they even want to stop the war?

In fact, anti-war organizing in Phoenix has routinely stayed away from any kind of action that might actually affect the prosecution of the war. And both before and since S24 there has been plenty of sign-holding and praying, including a celebrity candlelight prayer vigil with Cindy Sheehan in October. The organizers are so afraid of direct action that they regularly recruit “peace police” to keep protesters in line, out of the street and well-regulated. Because the protests these days have been boring and ineffective for so long, it’s easy to forget that before the war in Iraq we had protests in Phoenix which took to the streets, defied police attempts to contain us and disrupted traffic. But, as the presidential election closed in radical voices and militant tactics were marginalized in favor of electioneering.

Increasingly since then, the anti-war movement has become a tool of the Democratic Party. First, MoveOn.org, pushing pro-war John Kerry, leeched onto the movement with the help of anti-war organizers. Democrats admonished anarchists and radicals, previously at the forefront of the movement in the US, with a reactionary and pro-war “anybody but Bush” line. The fear of a second Bush term provided the argument fertile soil, despite the obvious contradiction between voting for a pro-war candidate while otherwise opposing the war. With the election over, and the “anybody but Bush” strategy a clear failure, Democrats now look towards the mid-term and 2008 presidential elections, hoping again to steer anti-war sentiment towards their pro-war party.

In Phoenix, we see this strategy manifested in the local organizers’ bullheaded determination to focus their actions exclusively against symbolic targets on the Right, despite the clear complicity of the Democratic Party in this war. So far no one within the organizing cadre has bothered to articulate the reasons for this orientation, but it is probably safe to assume that they are afraid of broadening the debate beyond “anybody but Bush.” Developing a systematic critique of the war, which sees both parties as war parties beholden to the same capitalist interests, would surely undermine the Democrats in the anti-war movement.

We also see this pro-Democratic tendency manifested in the tactics chosen. Rather than opting for a more militant plan, utilizing direct action against the system’s war-making capacity and profiteers, the organizers have stuck to a “making our voice heard” strategy, with the Democratic Party as the primary audience. The problem with this is that being heard doesn’t stop the war. It relies on the false assumption that once enough people speak out against the war the system will change its policies. But the system does not exist primarily to respond to people like us. It’s designed to reflect the interests of the rich, and in the end, as far as the political parties are concerned, only their opinions matter. Since the rich control both parties, appealing to the conscience of one over the other will have only very limited effect. Further, in the end it cedes the process of defining just what an end of the war would look like to the very ruling class that wanted it in the first place. Our struggle is about the lives of ordinary working class folks, and so we have to make sure that we, not the political parties, are in the driver’s seat.

In order to do this, we need to build our own autonomous power, independent of the institutions of the rich, like the political parties. We need to refocus our attention on meaningful, rather than symbolic targets, and we need to use direct action and civil disobedience against those targets. Rather than focusing on Republicans or elections, let’s start hitting weapons manufacturers, police departments, government offices, recruitment centers and banks – the people planning and profiting from this war.

We need to recognize that the power of the elites to wage this war manifests directly in proportion to their ability to keep us all complicit and under control. The Iraqi insurgents understand this and it’s a lesson we ought to take to heart. French Arab and Muslim youth drew similar conclusions in their recent insurrection against the racist French government. For our purposes, being out of control and disruptive to the everyday, banal routine of the war-making machine at home is the best way to bring this war to a close in a way that benefits the Iraqi people and the American working class. By our actions we need to bring about a crisis of the system, so that it no longer functions reliably for the elites.

Of particular importance to the every day functioning of the American society is the system of white supremacy. Under white supremacy, the white segment of the working class has been bought into a cross-class alliance with the rich against the rest of the working class. Significant advantages, ranging from longer life span, access to health care and better opportunities for home ownership to lower incarceration rates, reduced exposure to police violence and higher wages have been deliberately bestowed on the white working class in exchange for loyalty to the system as a whole. We see this loyalty manifested in a variety of ways, but in Arizona it has manifested clearly in anti-immigrant vigilantism (the Minutemen) and reactionary electoralism (Prop 200, Rep. Russell Pearce). This division in the working class enables the capitalist class to accumulate vast profits and to wage war throughout the world.

As people interested in bringing the system into crisis in order to stop the war, we would do well to focus our attention on subverting the system of white supremacy. We ought to start supporting the struggles of working class people of color here at home, thus undermining the cross-class alliance so important to American imperialism abroad. We should abandon the failed strategies of the past for direct action. A strong, militant working class is the only force that can smash the state and overthrow capitalism, two prerequisites for a world without wars. The sooner we in the anti-war movement recognize the links between the oppression and division of the working class domestically and the war abroad, the sooner we can bring this war to an end.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

RFID and the high-tech war on workers

With the emerging market of RFID one question not much discussed is the effect it will have on workers. We're used to bizarre arguments for RFID. For instance, tech boosters often cite convenience as a prime benefit likely to derive from RFID. Payment transactions can be reduced to just a few seconds or less, they argue, thus increasing convenience for the consumer. A convenience, it should be pointed out, demanded by consumers only to the extent that the capitalist has already so successfully intruded on our free time through work and other systems of control. Technological capitalism's unending quest to squeeze every last drop of efficiency out of us isn't just as simple as the drive for profit; though profit clearly underlies the pathology of capitalism, modern technology significantly enhances capitalism's ability to tag, count and account for every little part of its domain, to the point of obsession.

And so, it comes as no surprise that RFID seriously enhances the capitalist's ability to control her workforce. Though RFID proponents claim that the technology won't destroy jobs, that's not really the point. What RFID will do is restructure the American workplace in the further interest of the capitalists. The exploitation of workers will increase and with it the amount of work expected from us. Likewise our ability to resist will be seriously challenged.

In order to distract us from the human implications, industry journals love to camouflage their discussion of the issue in jargon, as in this case, from Productiondaily.com:
The RFID factory automator system reduces missed tasks, and allows a greater speed on the production line, the company claims.
Or this case, from productivitybyrfid.com,
We use RFID as a tool to improve manufacturing and distribution processes in multiple industries. Productivity goals include decreasing set up time and maintenance time, increasing asset utilization, eliminating surplus equipment, and decreasing labor at shipping/receiving and picking/put-away. We strive to create systems that put information where it is most valuable - into the hands of the user.
And, without a doubt, "the user" here referenced is the boss.

Even when the technology's implications for workers are dealt with more directly, it's still framed as if the increased rate of productivity and job surveillance will be good for the worker in the end. For instance, in this case the use of the positive word "reward" serves to distract from the larger point of increased workload and speed and decreased autonomy on the job.
[The boss wanted to] develop a way to measure the productivity of the company's packers. The vendor wanted to establish an incentive program to reward its most productive workers...
"The idea behind this system is to benefit the worker first, who stands to make more money based on productivity, and then also the company, through increased productivity. So it's a win-win [scenario]," says Welt, who notes that this system could be used in other labor-intensive assembly or packing environments. This would enable the hardest workers to earn the highest wages.
But, of course, capitalism never "benefit[s] the worker first," so the claim is ridiculous. Not to mention that any such rewards would necessarily come through increased competition with fellow workers, thus undermining worker solidarity. Most unions and workers seem oblivious to the looming disaster of RFID. One that seems to have somewhat gotten it is the GMB in Britain.
The 700,000-member General, Municipal, Boiler makers and Allied Trade Union is demanding the European Commission outlaw radio tags in ware houses. Not on merchandise, but on workers.
Workers are right to be concerned about RFID in this sense, but, as this opinion piece on baselinemag.com points out, we need to broaden our critique to recognize that RFID doesn't have to be on our physical person to increase our subjugation at work. And, as the article rightfully points out,
...even without embedding tags in uniforms or armbands, efficiency already can be monitored with video cameras. Allowing workers to take off armbands when on private time doesn't really change the calculus, either. You can still figure out when a time–out is being taken.
We are entering a new reorganization of work, similar to that of Fordism, automation and Soviet Stakhanovism before it. The only thing holding this transformation back is the current relatively high cost of RFID. But this is all about to change thanks to three factors. First, government intervention in the market through the defense budget will drive costs down. Second, demands by corporations like Wal-Mart for RFID incorporation from manufacturers will force compliance. Third, nanotech will drive down the cost by reducing the size and production costs of RFID.

It's time for workers to add to our struggle the fight against technologies like RFID. So far, technology-related demands made by unions have been quite limited. The failure of the recent Safeway strike to address the automated check out machines, sure to de-skill workers and decrease pay and worker power over time, highlights this lack of vision.

Some argue that RFID isn't the next big thing. But, Wal-Mart and the military aside, even cutting edge technology firms like TiVo think otherwise. The company filed for a patent this week on a "personal video recorder (PVR) that recognizes viewer preferences through an RFID chip embedded in clothing, jewelry or 'inserted somewhere [in] the user's body.'" Through this process, TiVo hopes to tailor media (read: ads) to subtle preferences divined through RFID in the environment or on (or in) the user's person.

Those further interested in the topic of worker resistance to technology might consider picking up a copy of David F. Noble's excellent book, "Progress Without People: In Defense of Luddism."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Under the benevolent protection of the research scientist

And so the noose tightens. Today brings news from Citywatcher.com, a surveillance camera company (if you go to their website, you can watch videos of crimes caught by their cameras). The Palatka Daily News features an article on a presentation the company made to city officials and residents, pimping its cameras and its ability to turn your neighborhood into the kind of police state everyone can participate in (for a similar disturbing vision of America's future, see also, Priceline.com founder Jay Walker's fascist project USHomeGuard.org).
CityWatcher.com uses wireless cameras and Internet access to provide a video record of high crime areas. The citizens of that area are able to log on and observe their own streets. If a crime is taking place at that time, a 911 phone call can be made. The Police Department would have a central terminal that can access all cameras installed. Each camera would be linked to a volunteer trained to monitor the video feeds to computers in their houses and be able to report crime as it is happening.
Police can hardly contain their enthusiasm for the technology, or for the way it turns neighborhood residents into snitching Big Brothers.
“We have nearly 80 cams out there and we are making more drug arrests than we can ever imagine,” [Lt.] Byrd [public information officer for the Cincinnati Police Department] said. “We installed the system in 2003, but the benefit of the system really kicked in in 2004. We are getting ready to purchase even more cameras.”

Byrd said the technology has gotten much better since their 2003 demonstration. “We are able to watch as far away as 2,500 feet for potential criminal activity,” he said. “The neighborhoods we have them in show a marked decline in street crimes such as assault and drug trafficking. The cameras are able to zoom right in so we get a good face description of the perpetrators.”
Local business owners, generally an authoritarian bunch, share the cops' enthusiasm. One member of the petty bourgeoisie, owner of the ironically named "With A Little Love" consignment/gift shop, summed up the local capitalist consensus on the cameras this way: “If it helps, they can put them on my building." But there is hope:
“We have had just one camera in Cincinnati that was damaged,” said CityWatcher.com Chief Executive Officer Sean Darks “We put them on tall metal poles because we have had a pole burned down to get to the camera.”
Resistance springs eternal, apparently.

The Palm Beach Post reports that the West Palm Beach PD planned to install hundreds of hidden surveillance cameras in the city's "most violent neighborhoods" (read: non-white and poor), just like Cincinnati has.
“I was originally going to do it covertly,” Assistant Police Chief Guillermo Perez said.

The reason he didn’t? Perez said he learned that other large cities that use surveillance cameras extensively go out of their way to publicize the cameras’ presence.

The theory is that doing so will discourage criminals from committing crimes in the first place.
Will the cameras infringe on people's right to privacy? After all, they are "[a]ble to rotate 360 degrees and read a license plate a half-mile away, they will roll 24 hours a day and can be programmed to zoom in at the sound of gunfire."

The city's top cop dodges the question: “That’s not our intention. Our intention is to make a neighborhood safer.” Of course another way to make a neighborhood safer would involve withdrawing the police and addressing the massive disparities in wealth, power and opportunity that the poor face everyday. But then that solution doesn't have the added advantage of keeping the poor in line (read: prison, when not working), so the elites have little interest in it. Each camera costs around $17,000 dollars, a price elites deem worth paying as long as prison is involved. And who will pay for them? Why the poor will, of course. The cops plan to pay for them with "cash from drug seizures," among other things.

But still some dissent. They prefer the old fashioned way of keeping the poor in line: more cops.
"The more cameras you use, the more data you have and the more you have to pay to process it," said Kevin Watson, spokesman for the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, a Virginia-based law enforcement advocacy group. "If you use the same amount of money and put officers on the street, you're guaranteed to have arrests."
Unfortunately, and perhaps somewhat understandably, residents of high crime neighborhoods often demand the cameras themselves. Said 23-year-old mother Toya Barnes: "It's good in certain places. There's a lot of shooting going on." Barnes put a camera outside her house.

But, the problem with surveillance cameras isn't primarily a privacy issue - it's that they work! They successfully alter people's behavior and therefore a free society doesn't need them. Further, if we want to transform a not-so-free society like our own into a free one, every camera put on the street makes that a little bit harder. By definition social change requires illegal acts, both small and large scale.

Highlighting the problem, and police and capitalist zeal for the technology, is the case of Christopher Brian Shusta. Timberjay.com reports that Shusta was caught thanks to surveillance cameras for several break-ins at local businesses. Unconcerned with privacy issues, Ely Surf Shop owner Richard Gamble said, “We got the b——-d.” It was his camera, after all, that caught the suspect on tape. That wasn't the only thing on his mind, though. “I hope the retailers can relax a little now and have a bountiful holiday season,” he said. That's the real point. We shouldn't be surprised to see support for these technologies from the capitalist class. Their interests are by nature antagonistic to those of the working class and poor that they exploit and abuse.

On a parallel track, object and face recognition technology will be coming soon to your cell phone. Those cameras, which the industry projects will be embedded five out of every six phones sold in 2005 (with three billion cell phone users projected by 2010), have become ubiquitous in daily life, and so, naturally, advertisers and companies have begun to take advantage of them.
By early next year, cartons of milk sold by a European dairy manufacturer will have images of CD art printed on them. Accompanying each image will be a message urging people to take a picture of the art with a cell phone camera. Then, if the cell phone photographer sends the snapshot to a database operated by a marketing outfit, a free song will be sent to the phone from the band's sponsoring record label.

...It's possible, thanks to sophisticated object and facial recognition software that can match images with those scanned into an Internet-connected database. A match can trigger a range of possible results, including promotions, ring tones, pricing, maps and search results.
The technology's security applications have not been overlooked (I will quote at length):
Docomo, Japan's largest mobile operator, and Vodafone, whose Japan unit also is a big player in that market, licensed Neven's software for their winter phone models, which will include facial recognition software designed to allow secure payment transactions. Right now, some Docomo phones with integrated cash-card functionality allow users to pay for items by passing their phone over a radio-frequency payment point. The Neven-embedded phones will store pictures of their owners that serve as network passwords.

Neven Vision is developing a similar application for mobile security. The company has built a "ruggedized" handheld device for police forces and military use. The device can store as many as 2 gigabytes of data, or 200,000 images, with biographical information such as name, license number and crime history.

Once a photo is taken with the device, its embedded software will launch a search for a match in its database. Because such information is regularly updated, the device can be synchronized to and brought current with a network database whenever it's being charged or connected to the computer.

The Los Angeles Police Department has been testing the device for the last year to aid in the capture of wanted gang members. It has made arrests with the device every day, according to Neven.

He expects the police department to eventually get cameras with resolution high enough to analyze the iris of a suspect's eye. "As image resolution increases, we can squeeze more and more information out of a facial picture, such as skin analysis and iris analysis," he said.
Even more creepy, the technology's proponents talk about it in terms of hyperlinking reality, as if now the web will reach out into the real world, embedding itself into the very objects and people that surround us, like it or not.

But, as I said before, resistance springs eternal. And so an interesting dichotomy is emerging as people, for a variety of reasons, embrace cell phone technology, but at the same time regularly report dissatisfaction with the devices and their service providers. Some of the unhappiness stems from the failure of the technology itself to live up to performance expectations (something all cell phone users can sympathize with). But steadily, other kinds of resistance, based on privacy, health and political concerns has been building.

In perhaps the most outrageous case, one cell phone salesman reported a well-known, recent encounter that didn't go as planned: “I offered him a free cell phone, and he pulled out an AK-47. Every step he took he was pulling the trigger.” News stories don't support the notion that it was cell phones that set off the mall gunman, but those of us with cell phones or who have been pestered by the salesman at the mall can perhaps understand why it was that particular moment that the shooter chose to go off.

Meanwhile, communist rebels in the Philipines have staged a series of attacks against cell phone towers. So far, 20 towers have been attacked, some of which have been blown up. The rebels appear to be angry about Globe Communications failure to pay the revolutionary tax the revolutionaries demand.

Most encouraging, however, angry residents of Brooklyn marched against Sprint/Nextel's plan to place a cell tower across the street from a local school. Chanting, "Cell no, you must go," residents demanded a halt to the scheme.
"Why do they think it's okay to submit our children to this radiation, without knowing if, 50 years down the line, our children might have cancer because of it?" one protesting parent said.

"It's a grass roots effort that has a lot of backing," said another parent. "There are many people in the school, many parents, that are fed up. And they're not going to let this settle unless we get what we want here."
To which the companies responded: "The scientific community in the United States, Canada and internationally overwhelmingly agrees that power from wireless sites is far too low to produce adverse health effects."

Speaking of being experimented on without your consent - and the scientific consensus perhaps being wrong about a technology - PhysOrg.com reports that "a nanoparticle commonly used in industry could have a damaging effect on plant life, according to a report by an environmental scientist at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)." But what about all that time up until now when the nanoparticles were being so "commonly used?"
"Before this study there was an assumption that nanoparticles had no effect on plants," said [Dr. Daniel J.] Watts, executive director of the York Center for Environmental Engineering and Science and Panasonic Chair in Sustainability at NJIT.
The study revealed that at least five species of plants, including corn, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage and soybeans, suffered retarded growth when exposed to the particles, which are common in "scratch-resistant transparent coatings, sunscreen lotions that provide transparent-UV protection and environmental catalysts that reduce pollution." And there's reason to think that plants may not be the only ones being exposed.
Nanoparticles can be deposited into air by exhaust systems, chimneys or smoke stacks, said Watts. The particles can also mix with rainwater and snow and gradually work their way into soil.
Don't you feel better? Science is a self-correcting process - it just may not correct itself in time to save you from what it has already subjected you to.

Meanwhile, there's more cause for concern. BikeBiz.com reports, in an article entitled, "Are Carbon Nanotubes the Next Asbestos?" that
[b]ike makers may be gushing about carbon nanotubes but experts at the recent International Congress of Nanotechnology in San Francisco said few toxicology tests have been carried out on nanotech products. The Nanoethics Group, a US research organisation, said nanomaterials may be amazingly strong but they are not biodegradable and there could be many other unforeseen future problems with nanotech products.
Summarized from an article in the Independent, the piece quotes: "Carbon nanotubes, which are vastly stronger than steel, have a similar profile to asbestos fibre, and might have an equally devastating effect if released into the environment and absorbed by our bodies."

To be safe, of course, until now researchers have opted on the side of unbridled optimism, widespread use and the enthusiastic exposure of all of humanity to nanotech's generally unknown effects (just like they have done with GMO). I guess that's what you get when you put the people with the worst social skills in charge of the technology you develop.

Consider the following dichotomy:
(1) China is applying the brakes to its plan to produce the world's first genetically modified rice for human consumption as concerns mount over safety, especially with reports that illegal transgenic rice is already being sold in some provinces.

(2) Opposition to genetically modified (GMO) rice in Asia is likely to dissipate in the next 5 to 7 years as the region struggles to feed its growing population, a senior scientist said.
The scientists may hate any democratic meddling in their research, but, at least there's some resistance. The question is, will it be large enough and soon enough?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Orange betrayal and the pathology of the obsessive compulsive technocrat

Those still considering the effectiveness of the anti-Bush unity strategy of World Can't Wait/Revolutionary Communist Party may do well to read this article from the Guardian. The piece focuses on the aftermath of the much-hyped Orange Revolution in the Ukraine a year ago, which toppled a sitting president and replaced him with another, in this case pro-Western, candidate. A year later, the energy and hope that characterized the insurrection is largely gone, and the reality has set in.

"We wanted to live in a new democratic country without corruption and vote fraud," said one of the revolution's early participants. "It turned out our new leaders acted the same old way as their predecessors," he continues. And what happened once the old regime was toppled? "We expected the bandits who led the election fraud would be put behind bars but that didn't happen because of political deals behind the scenes."

A recent poll out of Ukraine confirms that this view is widely held:
More than half of Ukrainians believe that President Viktor Yushchenko and his government have failed to live up to the promises of the Orange Revolution, according to a poll released Thursday.

In the nationwide survey of 1,993 people by Kiev's Razumkov center, 37.5 percent of respondents said Yushchenko's team had fulfilled no promises at all, and 20.6 percent said the government acted contrary to its slogans from the Orange Revolution [my emphasis].
"We hoped for better, but it turned out like always," says Max, a Taxi driver. A revolution needs to set its goals beyond the mere replacement of one regime with another; we need to get the system in our sights and take aim, and that means getting beyond the naive, middle class analysis of opportunists like the RCP and WCW.

In other foreign news, the AP reports that two bombs went off in Mexico City today. Both devices were planted in front of Spanish-owned banks and, while one failed to detonate, the other blew out windows and damaged computers. A note accompanied the successful bombing, claiming responsibility by a group calling itself "Barbarous Mexico Revolutionary Workers' Commando."

In an e-mail to The Associated Press the group cited "neoliberal reorganization and capitalist expansion" as motivations for the action, as well as denouncing the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and American corporations like Wal-Mart and McDonalds.

On the subject of neoliberal reorganization and capitalist expansion, several stories today feature the spread of technological domination into previously ignored areas. In a Reuters article, Rebecca Harrison asks, "Can technology ease Africa's woes?" Though tech companies may be jumping the gun a bit, their eagerness to assimilate the Third World into the sphere of technological control is obvious. Arthur Goldstuck, head of South African technology research company World Wide Worx skeptically puts it this way: "Bridging the digital divide is a non starter if we haven't even crossed the literacy divide." But the elites remains optimistic.

In the First World, non-profits are gearing up to distribute cheap, hand-cranked laptops to children in the Third World. Backed by corporations like Google and rich people like Rupert Murdoch, the project hopes to open in six markets in February and March, requiring participating governments to purchase one million or more computers each. The stated goal is all about the kids - schoolkids, specifically. "We designed the device to perform many roles," said the leader of the One Laptop Per Child nonprofit group, Nicholas Negroponte. "Learning should be seamless." Just how the computers will aid in learning, of course, is left unspecified, which is just par for the course when it comes to technology, the very nature of which is presumed to be inherently progressive despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Likewise, back at home, the steady integration of everything and everyone into the technological web continues. Going with the school theme, TMC.net reports that Appleton, WI, is expanding its use of technology in the classroom to include "a greater emphasis on accountability as to how technology is used as a learning tool." Dale Hanson, the director of instructional technology plans to "'blow the top off' the possibilities for enhancing instruction." And the attitude of the school board? "'The bottom line, to me,' said board member Jeff Knezel, 'is that teachers have to be willing to go along with this and work on this.' Some things at school never change.

Also here at home, Google plans to move ahead with its scheme to wire up its whole home town of Mountain View to the internet, and Cingular Wireless has unveiled the first cell phone marketed for children under 12. Reports teleclick.ca,
The trick in advertising it of course, is to appeal to parents, letting them know that there is a safe and efficient kid-friendly alternative to fully fledged cell phones. To achieve this, Cingular has taken out ads in a variety of major publications, including Parenting Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and People.
Because, as stated before, the ideology of progress and technological change are so wedded together in modern ideology - both left and right - many people find it hard to make arguments against the spread of technology, especially when it is couched in terms of enfranchising those left out or poor. But it's important to remember that the true ideological part of an argument is the part that those in disagreement leave unstated, unargued. The fact that both left and right agree broadly on the necessity, even inevitability, of technological progress, ought to give those of us interested in liberty and autonomy serious pause. Technology as we know it is a system of social control, and spreading it to the poor and disenfranchised under the steady guiding hand of the corporates, technocrats and bureaucrats is no more a progressive act than is the spreading of McDonalds or prisons.

As if to remind us, USA Today ran a story this week about the spread of GPS in workplaces. One case in the article involved a local television station that equipped their newsvans with the tracking devices.
"We're concerned about the possible misuse of the information that these systems can supply," said Gene Maxwell, head of Local 16 of the National Association of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians. "In particular, we wanted to make sure that it really wasn't going to be used as a disciplinary tool."

The station, which had no comment about the move, assured the union the GPS system was intended only to improve efficiency and worker safety, Maxwell said.
But, there's no way to use GPS "to improve efficiency and worker safety" without using it as a disciplinary tool. Certainly, no boss will use the information merely to make polite recommendations about employee behavior. And, of course, the point is that the technology limits the space on the job for workers' autonomous action (which is why the boss will love it so much). Beyond the obvious invasion of privacy, the technology severely limits collective organizing, which often has to be done behind the boss' back, as well as opportunities for the reclamation of time through slacking and the reappropration of workplace resources, both of which are necessary to resistance movements and just plain being a human being in this oppressive system. The implications beyond the workplace are dealt with in limited fashion in "Tracking the Wild Teenager--Spy Tools for the Whole Family," recently posted on PCWorld.com.

Continuing with technology, Anna Salleh reports in her article, "Airport security keeps eye on left luggage," about the emerging technologies for visually tracking people and items in crowded spaces. In her story, researchers are working on a system to
allow security staff to tell the difference between a suspicious abandoned suitcase whose owner has left the building and a suitcase whose owner is queuing for coffee two metres away.
...The technology uses software with security cameras that can identify when a strange stationary object, like a suitcase, appears in an otherwise familiar scene.
On a related note, Judy Skatssoon also wrote about a similar camera technology in August. "The system uses behaviour recognition software to identify unusual activity, such as shifting around on a bus," she reports. "[Barney Glover, of Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia, which is working on the system] acknowledges the technology raises privacy issues but says it could help prevent crime and terrorism, such as the recent London bombings."

Designers hope to integrate the technology with facial and unattended baggage recognition systems like the one above. Of course, while aimed at resistance-driven crime, the technology does nothing to stop the crime and terrorism of politicians or capitalists, whose villainy either takes place in backrooms or has long since been legalized through the elite monopoly on power.

Perhaps creepiest of all, developers see the technology spreading into homes:
Behaviour recognition technology also has implications for monitoring the elderly or people with disabilities in their home.

Glover says the university has also devised a system where "anxiety" levels are built into a house.

"The house gets anxious if an abnormal event continues," he says.

"Eventually it reaches an anxiety level where it sends an SMS to a carer and says, 'grandma seems to be sitting on the floor beside her bed and isn't responding to the prompts from the house, please intervene'."

Glover says the most sophisticated forms of the technology are expected to be available within the next 10 years.
Well, as long as we're all safer, right? The obsessive-compulsive desire of technocrats to tag and monitor every action, item and space in existence seems scarily pathological to me.

Finally, on the looming apocalypse newswire, we have a few briefs worth considering. First, we have the "America's Next Top Disasters" as ranked by Wired Magazine. Second is a story reporting that "Australian researchers have confirmed they have scrapped 10 years of research into genetically modified peas because the altered version caused lung inflammation in mice." Lastly, LiveScience.com reports that a "new study reveals one of the largest glaciers in Greenland is shrinking and speeding to the sea faster than scientists expected. If it continues, Greenland itself could become much smaller during this century and global seas could rise as much as 3 feet." Time to buy some waders.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"AMouse", a drone, a riot, an insurrection and global environmental collapse

Today offers many interesting developments on the technology front. PhysOrg.com reports that robot researchers have made some surprising progress with their "AMouse," or artificial mouse project. By experimenting with different sensing technologies - including one modeled on mouse whiskers - scientists were able to build robots capable of "feeling" their environment. Most disturbing, the scientists found when they linked up various sensing technologies, the robots exhibited "emergent behavior."
Emergent behaviour is a primary characteristic of life. In biological systems the combination of various data, like touch and sight, reinforces specific neural pathways. These pathways come to dominate and can cause an entity to 'behave' in a specific way.

In one startling outcome an AMouse robot demonstrated what appeared to be emergent behaviour: it developed a homing instinct without any pre-programming of any kind.

"Essentially we put in the sensors and then wire them up through the robots 'brain', its CPU. We just switch it on without giving it instructions of any kind," says Simon Bovet, a Ph.D. student at the University of Zurich. When he threw the switch his robot started moving about the room but always returned to the spot where it began.
Researchers hope that their experiments will help them understand the human brain, where we are to presume, they will resist the desire to program it like they do with their machine subjects. As machines increasingly share more and more life-like attributes, are we to believe that human life will not be significantly devalued in comparison? More likely as the advantages of machines over humans become more clear to elites, as comparisons of human processes to machinery proliferate in the scientific field, and as the differences between humans and machines increasingly blur, human life (or more specifically, non-elite human life) will become increasingly cheap in the eyes of the powers-that-be. Given how carelessly these elites already deal in non-elite human life, this would be a truly disturbing turn of events.

Continuing on the robot front, the World Tribune features a story on the increasing role of unmanned drones in Iraq. Whereas the military initially used drones for surveillance, they have increasingly been used in attack capacities. Armed with hellfire missiles, 20 mm cannons and laser targeting, the use of drones in attacks in Iraq has become "routine." Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting on the booming business of building miniature drones. Military uses rank high on the list of priorities, but police agencies also hope to utilize the devices. Honeywell is readying for deployment a small drone that weighs just a few pounds but that cops hope will help them increase their ability to project force in various situations.
San Diego Sheriff’s Department helicopter pilot Sergeant Jon Shellhammer was blown away when he saw video of an air-powered unmanned flying vehicle that can swoop around in tight places.

“I had no idea that this technology was out there or available,” Shellhammer said. “I’ve seen some of the smaller drone aircraft, but it’s considerably larger than this, so something like this … certainly is always welcome, because of the potential life-saving advantages.”
Some of the drones are so small that they can be launched like a slingshot from a hand-held device and can fly for up to 90 minutes. Consider this evaluation of one drone's combat uses:
``The Iraqis came to learn that when they heard the buzz of a Pioneer overhead, all heck would break loose shortly thereafter,'' said Steven Reid, vice president of AAI's unmanned air vehicle systems, ``because these 16-inch rounds would start landing all around them,'' from a U.S. battleship about 60 miles away.
Further enhancements of the capabilities of the police and military to project force (force multipliers, as they call them) will only further enhance our oppression and the level of exploitation that the ruling class can subject us to by reducing our ability to resist. And make no mistake, this is the primary reason behind such research.

This logic also holds for technologies deployed by the private sector. NewScientist.com reports on a new breakthrough in camera technology that allows images to be focused after being taken. They do this by inserting
a sheet of 90,000 lenses, each just 125 micrometres across, between the camera's main lens and the image sensor. The angle of the light rays that strike each microlens is recorded, as well as the amount of light arriving along each ray.
This allows any part of the image to be refocused after the fact, and it also
removes the conventional trade-off between the aperture size, which controls the amount of light that the camera takes in, and the depth of field. If light is low, a larger aperture will let enough light into the camera to form a clear image, but the laws of optics mean that a narrower slice of the world in front of the camera will appear in focus.
This makes the technology a major breakthrough for surveillance cameras, which do most of their recording at night.

On the international front, AsiaTimes.com is hosting an interesting article comparing the Iraqi insurgency to the Vietnamese resistance. The story focuses on Tran Dac Loi, a Vietnamese communist official whose father fought in the American War. Tran points out what he sees as several long-term weaknesses of the Iraqi resistance.
"Our struggle was well organized. We had an address and official contacts, but with Iraq you never know who the resistance is and what their objectives are.

"Sure, the fighters all want the Americans out, but there's no unifying political program... This kind of resistance leads nowhere. Resistance has to have a clear objective. Ours was independence and socialism; not reaction but revolution."
Tran also singles out the ethnic nature of the resistance as another weak point, ripe for exploitation by the Americans. A resistance movement divided on ethnic lines can lead one or more faction to side with the occupier in order to protect their own particular interest, he suggests.
"The absence of a clear political program is in the interest of the US. Then, they [the US] can go above you and pretend like they're solving the problems between you, when really they're lording over you."
Tran also disagrees with part of the insurgency's regular targeting of civilians: "When we fought, we only fought against the ones who fought us. Civilians were never our targets."

As many people know, IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices) have become the weapon of choice for Iraqi insurgents, and likewise they have become the primary cause of death for American soldiers there. Gary Brecher, otherwise known by his pen name, War Nerd, has written a pretty interesting article this month on IED's and their development in Iraq. For those interested in the evolution of Iraqi insurgent tactics, I also recommend a couple of his past articles: Iraq: Guerrilla Evolution; and, Most Valuable Weapon: the RPG. War Nerd isn't always politically correct, but his regular columns in Exile.ru, a Moscow-based American ex-pat magazine, are almost always fascinating.

Meanwhile, in France, the insurgency led by African and Muslim youth has simmered down, but the political landscape has changed as a result of their actions. Self-righteous - and hypocritical - denunciations of the violence have come from all responsible sectors of the media, government and civil society, and yet the fact remains: in a country in which the real exercise of power over the one's own life and communisty does not exist for many, and in which the influence of power through peaceful or institutional means is largely impossible, riot and violence becomes the only alternative. And what's more, it's often very effective.

Three articles shed some light on the crisis and the results. First is a pretty good article originally printed in the GuardianUK. Entitled, "Riots Are a Class Act - And Often They're the Only Alternative," the piece does a good job of pointing out that, contrary to what the elites say (for obvious reasons), rioting is very often completely justified. This is overall a good piece, although I disagree with the author's proposed solution of a political party for the France's excluded. If political parties ever had any usefulness for the working class that time has long since passed. Another article, "Car Torching a Tradition in France," reflects on the history of car arsons in French political and social life. Finally, in terms of results, there can be little doubt that, whatever the critics may say, the riots have forced onto the agenda issues that most of French society has actively ignored for a long time. And without casting a single vote!

Finally, two fish stories have made the news. First, the IndependentUK reports that "A catastrophic collapse in sea and bird life numbers along America's Northwest Pacific seaboard is raising fears that global warming is beginning to irreparably damage the health of the oceans."

At the same time, also on the West Coast, the Associated Press reports the discovery of "sexually altered fish off the Southern California coast, raising concerns that treated sewage discharged into the ocean contains chemicals that can affect an animal's reproductive system." It seems that while such fish have been discovered in fresh water before, having been polluted in higher proportion, this is the first time that such fish have been discovered in the ocean. The cause: "Nearly a billion gallons of treated sewage are released into the Pacific Ocean every day through three underwater pipelines off Huntington Beach, Playa del Rey and Palos Verdes Peninsula."

As the collapse of the global environment continues unabated, it's perhaps worth taking a quick look to the future courtesy of the UN University's Institute for Environment and Human Security:
UNU says the number of people forced to move by environment-related conditions already approximates and may someday dwarf the number of officially-recognized "persons of concern," recently calculated at 19.2 million. Indeed, Red Cross research shows more people are now displaced by environmental disasters than war.

"There are well-founded fears that the number of people fleeing untenable environmental conditions may grow exponentially as the world experiences the effects of climate change and other phenomena," says UNU-EHS Director Janos Bogardi.
Ever get the feeling that time is running out?

Monday, November 14, 2005

If you're who they sent to save me, then I don't want to be saved

I was listening to NPR the other day. Several scientists were discussing the development of the atom bomb and its effect on the world. Asked who brought us the bomb, the answer was unanimous: scientists. Asked who kept us from blowing up the planet, the answer - paradoxically - was again, scientists. A couple years ago I read an article on BBC news about scientists who want to send humans to colonize Mars before we ruin this planet. And who ruined the planet? The scientist had to acknowledge that it was them.

In the hilariously and non-ironically named article, Saving the Planet (Or, how science education is good for everyone's future), Seth Shostak makes precisely this contradictory argument, though he focuses on scientific solutions to truly natural disasters like asteroid strikes, pole realignment and ice ages. Shostak proposes a series of massive technological projects (while, typically, failing to address the consequences of such production) beginning from the somewhat facetious proposition that "the dinosaurs would be around today if they only had a space program." Perhaps, but without science, the dinosaurs were much more successful than humans have been, having walked the earth for tens of millions of years compared to modern human's pathetically miniscule 100,000. And in just the tiny fraction of that history that humans have had science we have already managed to drive ourselves to the verge of self-destruction. Who's better off with science?

On a similar note, we have a story from LiveScience.com that reports that "[i]f humans don't curb use of fossil fuels, the planet will warm 14.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2300. The polar ice caps will disappear and oceans will rise 23 feet (7 meters)."
Today's level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is 380 parts per million (ppm). By the year 2300, the model predicts that amount would nearly quadruple to 1,423 ppm.

Forests would cover the North and South poles.

The carbon dioxide eventually ends up in the oceans, which would become more acidic as a result, the scientists say.
Incidentally, an ocean rise of 23 feet would put vast sections of the planet underwater.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reported recently on the danger nanotech may pose to human health. While unaccountable scientists in labs across the country forge ahead with their research, some are speaking out against the technology. One doesn't have to buy apocalyptic scenarios, like nanotech pioneer Eric Drexler's grey goo, to be concerned. Nanotech, "machines so small -- measurable in nanometers, or billionths of a meter -- that they'd be invisible to the naked eye," is already being used in such "consumer products as machine lubricant, tennis balls, wrinkle-resistant clothing and sunscreen." This is potentially very troubling since "an increasing number of lab researchers have reported evidence of certain nanomaterials' toxic effects on living organisms."
In the latest example, nanoparticles of carbon -- which, some speculate, could be used as drug-delivery vehicles inside the body -- can "promote blood-clotting," scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center and Ohio University reported Oct. 21. In a forthcoming article for the British Journal of Pharmacology, a team led by Dr. Marek Radomski plans to report finding in experiments with anesthetized rats that the clumps grew big enough to block the rats' vital carotid arteries.
What will become of nanotech remains to be seen, but there is good cause for skepticism. As UC Santa Barbara Professor W. Patrick McCray points out, "utopian ideals crept into the rhetoric of people advocating for technology [in the past]... Why do people still continue to do this (today), despite the fact this utopian rhetoric often disappoints in the long run?" Good question.

Speaking of the apocalypse, the BBC provides us with another example of the way that humans have come to accept as normal the death culture that surrounds us. In the modern technological era, mass death and destruction are never far off, as suggested by the recent listing for sale of a former British government bunker. Meant to insure the survival of various bureaucrats and politicians in the event of a nuclear holocaust (an event these same folks were likely to have had some hand in), the real estate features many amenities, including "huge generators to provide power that might have been needed for weeks, boxes of paper and files, and enormous kitchens [and]... [o]ne of the largest telephone exchanges ever built." The article reports that two serious bids have been received.

Three related stories show the way technology facillitates increased surveillance of even mundane tasks. BizIntelligencePipeline reports that "[t]he Richmond (Va.) Police Department is installing on Friday a map-based software application that forecasts locations most likely to experience crime in a specified time period based on historic and current criminal statistics."
The data to analyze where the local law enforcement agency should best deploy officers is pulled from records management systems and database repositories. These platforms hold information from citizen complaints received by 911 operators to crime reports. The data is processed and imported into the new framework built on SPSS' Clementine predictive analytics tool and Information Builders’ software.
Similarly, in the article IBM to analyze digital scuttlebutt, CNET News.com staff writer Martin LaMonica reports on a new service IBM is utilizing to scour "reams of blogs, news stories and other material to distill useful information for companies." IBM says it discovered that "some customers were keen on learning what outsiders were saying on the Web about a given corporation." Lastly, InformationWeek reports that Google has begun offering its web analytics service for free to anyone.
Web analytics is the analysis of the data generated by visitors to Web sites -- the pages they visit, the ads they click on, and various related metrics -- for the purpose of marketing and content optimization.
On one hand there is a democratic argument to be made here that offering this service levels the playing field for small companies and individuals. But, is a world in which surveillance technology is available to all really a better one?

Finally, NewScientist.com posted a story, US military sets laser PHASRs to stun, about a new "non-lethal" weapon developed by the military. Called The Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response (PHASR) rifle, the weapon uses a laser to "dazzle" opponents, temporarily blinding them. Though similar weapons in the past have risked causing permanent damage, researchers claim that this weapon is risk-free in that department. The article cautions, however, that
the same US military research lab developed another laser weapon more than a decade ago, called the Sabre 203. This device attached beneath the barrel of a normal rifle and emitted a low-power laser light over a range of 300 metres. It was used by US forces in Somalia in 1995 but later shelved because of concerns over safety and effectiveness.
In a curious take on "non-lethal," DOD suggests the weapon may be used "to temporarily blind suspects who drive through a roadblock."

Finally, in another case where rampant over-medication of kids may hurt rather than help, Stanford University published on their website an article linking bipolar disorder and creativity. In what may elicit the largest collective "no DUH" since watching FOX news was linked to misinformed viewers, the article reports that
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have shown for the first time that a sample of children who either have or are at high risk for bipolar disorder score higher on a creativity index than healthy children. The findings add to existing evidence that a link exists between mood disorders and creativity.
Surprised researchers also found that kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) also scored high on creativity. Summing the findings up, Terence Ketter, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and a study co-author put it this way: “In this case, discontent is the mother of invention.” Imagine that.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Two Insurrections: Al-Qaeda and French African Youth

There's an interesting article today on AsiaTimes Online called "Al-Qaeda Goes Back to Base" by Syed Saleem Shahzad. The article deals with the internal debates within Al-Qaeda about organization, just who to consider the opposition and the necessity and opportunity for establishment of a physical base for the group.

The strategic discussion involves whether Al-Qaeda ought to target just "evil", or also "evil and it's allies." The main point of contention centers on whether the Pakistani military (excepting President-General Pervez Musharraf, of course, who is viewed as totally pro-Western) counts as an ally of evil or not. This may be interesting to those who remember Pakistani involvement in supporting Al-Qaeda, especially the military's intelligence service's (ISI) role in the evacuation of Al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan in 2001.

With Al-Qaeda's relatively recent retreat from Waziristan, an autonomous region of Pakistan, the search may be on for a new base, though this depends on the outcome of the internal debate. Interestingly, recent news stories highlight Al-Qaeda's presence in Somalia. Likewise, Israel National News reported today that Al-Qaeda has claimed control of a part of western Iraq. The report says Al-Qaeda hopes it "will serve as the base for an alternative state representing Moslems around the world." Some readers may remember the seizure of five towns in western Iraq by Al-Qaeda militants. If a central base is established, the organization may opt for a more open and centralized method of organization, rather than to the current decentralized strategy. Al-Qadea in Iraq announced today that it plans to launch a major counter-offensive against US forces in Western Iraq:
Your brothers in the military branch of Al-Qaeda in the Land of Two Rivers are launching today 'The Conquest of Vengeance' on behalf of the Sunni community in Al-Qaim
in order "to defend the (Islamic) nation and avenge the honour and blood" of Iraqis.

Meanwhile, also in the Middle East, Aljazeera reports that the current uprising by African youth in France has got some leaders in the Gulf region worried about their own countries as well. According to the story,
Millions of expatriate workers facing maltreatment and injustice in the Middle East and the Gulf are a time bomb that could unleash riots like those rocking France...
James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, says in the article that
France and the rest of Europe are learning now that 'guest workers', in their third generation and still denied justice, are not only a shame that eats at the moral fibre of a society, they are also a time bomb waiting to explode.
Continuing, Zogby says,
In this region, as well, in many places, workers, be they Palestinians or other Arabs or South Asians, are trapped in horrible conditions, denied justice and their basic humanity.
Is there hope for a workers revolt in the Middle East?

Returning to France, the rioting seems to have continued into a thirteenth night, as angry youths, ignoring French authorities and the Imams and "big brothers", returned to the streets again, molotovs in hand and facing a 1955 curfew law originally created in the face of insurrections supporting Algerian independence. Rueters reports for the first time that I know of tonight that white French youth are joining the insurrection. If so, this would be a major development that might pave the way for the broadening of the uprising. Hopefully such a broadening would not dillute the legitimate and critical grievances of Arab and African French. Meanwhile, the French state is busy sending youth caught by cops during the insurrection to jail with the swiftest possible justice.

The kids are getting a jump on les flics by using their cell phones and text messenging. UPI reports on the importance of the tactic to the insurrection. How long will the window remain open? A World Bank official interviewed in the article points out that organizers of future World Bank meetings "really [need] to keep tabs on e-mail and messaging traffic, as well as instructions on Web sites... But at the end of the day, it's the police force that really needs to keep track."

Can the police successfully monitor these communications? Yes, says Internet security expert Solange Ghernaouti-Helie: "To do the tracking on the Internet to identify the people involved is without doubt possible. But it requires considerable surveillance and analysis resources."

AFP reports tonight that French authorities have detained two youths, one 16 and one 18, for "inciting violence by using their blogs to urge others to join the rioting that is raging in the country." One kid reportedly encouraged his comrades to "[u]nite, burn all the cops. Go to your local police station and set it on fire." The other called for "all the 'hoods that want to get moving: burn everything up Friday between 9:30 and 10:00 pm."

Indeed. Let's get moving.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Understanding World Can't Wait and the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP)

The rise of the most recent RCP front group, The World Can't Wait, provides a good opportunity for me to offer some links to criticisms of the RCP, it's strategies and leader, Bob Avakian. In the past, the RCP has attempted to utilize front groups like Not In Our Name and the October 22nd Organization (O22).

Its strategy is similar to that of another Stalinist sect, the Workers World Party, which for several years has operated through its front group International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now To Stop War and End Racism). Both groups hope to use their fronts in order to maipulate folks who honestly oppose the policies of the Bush regime and the war. In the case of World Can't Wait, the steering committee - apparently self-appointed - is stacked with RCP members, disproportionate to their numbers and influence in the anti-war movement as a whole.

People who care about the future of the anti-war and other movements are right to start looking for alternatives to the stale, boring local scene, dominated as it is by Democratic electoralism and liberal candle-holding. But World Can't Wait brings us nothing that we can't do for ourselves. And it brings several disadvantages we can ill afford.

Four things we can do instead: (1) Break out of the vigil, anti-Bush rut - let's start picking meaningful targets that get to the root of the problem; (2) Focus on militant direct action aimed at targets that have a real impact on the war and its supporters; (3) Link up and support local struggles, especially those of the poor and people of color; (4) Ditch the political parties - our demands are clear and can be articulated and accomplished without the mediation of a third party.

For some good reading on the RCP and its history, consider the following articles:
This October 22, the RCP follows the anarchists
This short piece, from the Anarchist People of Color website, looks at some of the current changes in the RCP and why they may have made them. It also cautions anarchists and others to be skeptical of coalition work with them.
Mythology of the White-Led "Vanguard": A Critical Look at the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
This is a classic piece, though it focuses on the RCP as it was a few years ago. It's is worth reading to see where the RCP came from. Highlighted are its homophobic roots, amongst others. Though the RCP has reorganized some since this came out, most of the criticisms are still very valid. In an interview here, the author updates his criticism.
The Maoist cultism of the RCP is anti-Marxist
This is a pretty good analysis, though it comes from another authoritarian communist group. Not all of it's criticisms are valid, especially the more sectarian ones. However, the points about the cultish nature of the RCP and its pro-middle class orientation are worth reading.
These are three good places to start. In the end, though, the RCP is a deceptive, centralized and authoritarian organization. If we want to bring the war to an end and, eventually, bring about revolution in this country, we need to stick to decentralized and democratic forms of organizing because those reflect the world we want to replace the current one. And we need to keep our eyes on the real cause of the war, which goes beyond particular politicians or particular business interests. It's time to start talking about capitalism, the State, white supremacy, imperialism, patriarchy and the other systems that have brought us this and every other war. To stop them, we need a new direction in Phoenix, but we don't need World Can't Wait or the RCP.

There's an old anarchist saying, "If you want to know what a communist is saying, look at his hands." That means, the rhetoric is just that - rhetoric. Forget the words, look at what they are doing if you want to know what they really mean. We need to keep an eye on the RCP and WCW.


For the book readers out there, check out Daniel Cohn-Bendit's "Obsolete Communism: The Left-Wing Alternative" for a good treatment of communist parties as they operate in modern technological societies on the verge of revolution. Cohn-Bendit was a major player in the May Days of 1968 in Paris and had plenty to say after the communists sold the revolutionary movement out in France.

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