Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dialog with Wallerstein

Some important observations here but I think Wallerstein is wrong in stating this (See Wallerstein's "Commentary" at the end below my comment:

"On the other side will be popular forces across the world who will seek to create a new kind of historical system, one that has never yet existed, one that is based on relative democracy and relative equality. What this means in terms of the institutions the world would create is almost impossible to foresee. We shall learn in the building of this system in the decades to come."

I think there is no choice except the socialist alternative to capitalism. The way to get on this socialist road to begin with is through the anti-monopoly struggle in challenging Wall Street, Bay Street, The Square Mile and the other centers of imperialism for power.

"The People's Front" strategy with revolutionary working class tactics provides the way forward.

There is no alternative or third or fourth or fifth way to power for the working class which has to fight to defend past gains and militantly struggle for new reforms in order to survive as we struggle for political and economic power.

I hope Professor Wallerstein's excellent "Commentary" will provoke further discussion on this most important issue.

It isn't like we don't have examples from the past and the more recent present providing us with a guide to action.

There was the example of the socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party having elected two socialist governors--- Floyd Olson and Elmer Benson; there is the recent example of the socialist New Democratic Party in Manitoba controlling Manitoba politics for much of the past 50 years (see Howard Pawley's (former Manitoba NDP Premier) book, "Keep True; my life in politics" and Roland Penner's (Attorney General under Pawley) book "A Glowing Dream; a memoir" with the current example of the NDP on the verge of taking national political power.

Then there is the current struggle underway: Idle No More.

It is unfortunate Wallerstein has chosen to ignore commentary on these specific past, recent past and current struggles because his insight concerning these struggles would be a major contribution towards: "What needs to be done?"

Wallerstein consistently adds depth to our thinking through his analysis which is very insightful and accurate but like so many left intellectuals he doesn't seem to want to participate in the specifics of where we go from here and the specifics of what needs to be done. In my opinion this is kind of a cop out--- especially since he seems to be writing off socialism as an alternative to capitalism.

Wallerstein's outlook that the alternative to capitalism has yet to be found is, unfortunately, shared by many people--- intellectuals and activists.

The difference--- and the problem is: Wallerstein understand socialism and Marxism from having studied these ideas; whereas many who will read his commentaries have not and therefore are denying themselves knowledge that they reject without an understanding; knowledge of Marxism that if they would study Marxism they might find very useful in their day-to-day activities and movement building.

Check out all ideas and ideologies but don't exclude checking out Marxism which has been, and remains, the primary challenge to capitalist ideologies and ideas.

I am sending this to Professor Wallerstein because I think we need to draw him into a conversation about the socialist alternative to capitalism and the very important working class struggles--- past and present.

Socialism needs to be placed on the table for everyone to consider; even if there is some alternative to socialism as Professor Wallerstein is suggesting, a good healthy discussion about socialism can only hasten capitalism's much needed demise.

Alan L. Maki  

Commentary No. 344, Jan. 1, 2013
"Global Turmoil in the Middle Run"

Making predictions in the short run (the coming year or two) is a fool's game. There are too many unpredictable twists and turns in the real political/economic/cultural world. But we can attempt to make plausible statements for the middle run (a decade or more) based on a workable theoretical framework combined with a solid empirical analysis of trends and constraints.

What do we know about the world-system in which we are living? First of all, we know that it is a capitalist world-economy, whose basic principle is the ceaseless accumulation of capital. Secondly, we know that it is an historical system, which like all systems (from the universe as a whole to the tiniest nano-systems) has a life. It comes into existence, it lives its "normal" life according to rules and structures it creates, and then at some point the system moves too far from equilibrium and enters into a structural crisis. Thirdly, we know that our present world-system has been a polarizing system, in which there has been a steadily increasing gap among states and within states.

We are in such a structural crisis right now, and have been for some forty years. We shall continue to be in it for another twenty to forty years. This is quite an average length of time for a structural crisis of a historical social system. What happens in a structural crisis is that the system bifurcates, which means essentially that there emerge two alternative ways of ending the structural crisis by "choosing" collectively one of the alternatives.

The principal characteristic of a structural crisis is a series of chaotic and wild fluctuations of everything - the markets, the geopolitical alliances, the stability of state boundaries, employment, debts, taxes. Uncertainty, even in the short run, becomes chronic. And uncertainty tends to freeze economic decision-making, which of course makes things worse.

Here are some of the things we can expect in the middle run. Most states are facing, and are going to continue to face, a squeeze between reduced income and increased expenditures. What most states have been doing is to reduce expenditures in two ways. One has been to cut into (even eliminate) a great many of the safety nets that have been constructed in the past to help ordinary people deal with the multiple contingencies they face. But there is a second way as well. Most states are cutting the money transfers to subordinate state entities - federated structures, if the state is a federation, and local governments. What this does is simply to transfer the need to increase taxes to these subordinate units. If they find this impossible, they can go bankrupt, which eliminates other parts of the safety nets (notably pensions).

This has an immediate impact on the states. On the one hand, it weakens them, as more and more units seek to secede if they think it economically advantageous. But on the other hand, the states are more important than ever, as the populations seek refuge in state protectionist policies (keep my jobs, not yours). State boundaries have always been changing. But they promise to change even more frequently now. At the same time, new regional structures linking together existing states (or their subunits) - such as the European Union (EU) and the new South American structure (UNASUR) - will continue to flourish and play an increasing geopolitical role.

The juggling between the multiple loci of geopolitical power will become ever more unstable in a situation in which none of these loci will be in a position to dictate the interstate rules. The United States is an erstwhile hegemonic power with feet of clay, but one still powerful enough to wreak damage by missteps. China seems to have the strongest emerging economic position, but it is less strong than it itself and others think. The degree to which western Europe and Russia will draw closer is still an open question, and is very much on the agenda of both sides. How India will play its cards is very much undecided by India. What this means for civil wars like that in Syria at the moment is that outside interveners cancel each other out and internal conflicts become ever more organized around fratricidal identity groups.

I shall reiterate my long-argued position. At the end of a decade, we shall see some major realignments. One is the creation of a confederal structure linking Japan, (a reunited) China, and (a reunited) Korea. The second is a geopolitical alliance between this confederal structure and the United States. A third is a de facto alliance between the EU and Russia. A fourth is nuclear proliferation on a significant scale. A fifth is generalized protectionism. The sixth is generalized world deflation, which can take one of two forms - either a nominal reduction in prices, or runaway inflations that have the same consequence.

Obviously, these are not happy outcomes for most people. World unemployment will rise, not fall. And ordinary people will feel the pinch very severely. They have already shown that they are ready to fight back in multiple forms, and this popular resistance will grow. We shall find ourselves in the midst of a vast political battle to determine the world's future.

Those who have wealth and privilege today will not sit idly by. However, it will become increasingly clear to them that they cannot secure their future through the existing capitalist system. They will seek to implement a system based not on a central role of the market but rather on a combination of brute force and deception. The key objective is to ensure that the new system would guarantee the continuation of three key features of the present system - hierarchy, exploitation, and polarization.

On the other side will be popular forces across the world who will seek to create a new kind of historical system, one that has never yet existed, one that is based on relative democracy and relative equality. What this means in terms of the institutions the world would create is almost impossible to foresee. We shall learn in the building of this system in the decades to come.

Who will win out in this battle? No-one can predict. It will be the result of an infinity of nano-actions by an infinity of nano-actors at an infinity of nano-moments. At some point, the tension between the two alternative solutions will tilt definitively in favor of one or the other. This is what gives us hope. What each of us does at each moment about each immediate issue matters. Some people call it the "butterfly effect." The fluttering of a butterfly’s wings affects the climate at the other end of the world. In that sense, we are all little butterflies today.

by Immanuel Wallerstein

Becky Dunlop
Secretary, Fernand Braudel Center
Binghamton University
PO Box 6000
Binghamton NY 13902

In solidarity with Idle No More.

Taking my own advice that we need to intensify our struggles for peace, social and economic justice in the New Year, I sent out the following statement to fellow Justice Party members about the Idle No More movement now sweeping the continent and the world:

As a member of the National Steering Committee of the Justice Party I would like to share my concerns at this moment of a growing people's upsurge against racism and poverty.

The Justice Party and its members and friends should have a statement of solidarity for the Idle No More movement which started in Canada and has now spread across the border into the US.

It wouldn't hurt for Rocky Anderson and a delegation from the Justice Party and our friends to go meet with Chief Spence up in Canada.

We should be articulating a position that if poverty can't be addressed and solved on the Indian Reservations in Canada and the United States, poverty isn't going to be addressed or solved anyplace in Canada or the United States.

People without jobs are going to be poor, and as long as Bay Street and Wall Street are in power where their unlimited greed establishes their neo-liberal agenda of exploiting labor and raping Mother Nature, the only two sources of wealth this is not going to change.

Nations whose natural resources are continually stolen are going to be poor.

Nations whose waters, lands and air are continually polluted are going to be sick.

The phony liberals, progressives and leftists supporting Obama wanted us to ignore the fact Obama is a neo-liberal and have concocted the crazy idea that there are "high road" and "low road" capitalists (good and bad capitalists) with Obama representing the "high road capitalists" and now that this "thinking" has been exposed as being a warped way of thinking these phony liberals, progressives and leftists are pushing the idiotic concept and idea that Obama and his Wall Street entourage represent some kind of "left neo-liberalism;" a neo-liberalism that works for the common good.

All of this is done in the name of the imperialist ideology first advanced by John Dewey--- pragmatism--- which justified imperialist wars abroad accompanied by repression of the working class struggles here at home--- provided the Wall Street crowd scattered a few crumbs intended to silence the people when it came to these "dirty imperialist wars" as Mark Twain so aptly and appropriately labeled them.

These dirty imperialist wars are making us all poor with those already having been forced into racist poverty getting a double dose of poverty from these dirty wars.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense understands that poverty intentionally inflicted, pushed and forced on the Native peoples of Canada and the United States is made even worse when the wealth of our Nations is squandered on militarism and wars because it is that wealth which should be used to solve the problems of poverty on the Reservations and urban areas populated by Native peoples.

First Occupy Wall Street, and now, Idle No More, are challenging Wall Street's and Bay Street's neo-liberal agenda intended to reap huge super-profits from militarism and wars perpetrated in order to maximize and accumulate greater wealth all of which is created by labor with no small amount of help from Mother Nature; again, labor gets exploited as Mother Nature gets raped--- and what we, the people, reap is more poverty with the poorest of the poor suffering the worst consequences.

Wall Street and Bay Street must be challenged for power--- in the streets, at the ballot box, in our communities and where we work and go to school; all across Canada and the United States.

The racism of poverty must be exposed and addressed.

Will Occupy Wall Street and Idle No More find a voice reflecting and representing their movements at the ballot box which they feel comfortable becoming a part of? Only if we are among them in their struggles--- both movements should be able to find a political home in the Justice Party just as the most forward thinking activists among these movements find a political home in the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Canada.

The NDP was the first political party to reach out to Chief Spence in support and solidarity; the Justice Party should follow this example.

Why not consider a Justice Party initiated car caravan across the United States going into Canada through International Falls, Minnesota or Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to meet with Chief Spence?

Perhaps request the Green Party, Socialist Party and others join with us?

If the Justice Party doesn't take the lead as a political party in this country in solidarity with Idle No More; who will?

I would point out that neither the Democratic Party nor its partners in the leadership of organized labor have taken the kind of active role in supporting Idle No More as the Canadian Labour Congress and the New Democratic Party in Canada have done.

Even here in Minnesota where the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party has a new super majority--- a Democratic Governor along with solid majorities in the Minnesota State House and Minnesota State Senate (all claiming the "progressive" label);brought to power largely using the campaign profits derived from Indian Gaming; even with this super majority we don't hear these Democrats placing ending racism and poverty on their legislative agenda as the new legislative session convenes on January 8, 2013. Shouldn't a united Idle No More/Occupy Wall Street action be considered for this opening session of the Minnesota State Legislature with the demand for the eradication of poverty and racism be placed at the very top of their legislative agenda?

Politicians in both Canada and the United States--- like here in Minnesota--- have taken hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions from Indian Gaming and then turned their backs in racist indifference to the racist poverty they have been imposing on the Native Peoples. 

The Democrats pushed Occupy Wall Street into actions "leading" away from the seats of political power; the Justice Party should be seeking alliances with Idle No More and Occupy Wall Street along with rank-and-file working class activists in order to achieve political power; to bring the people to political power--- and ultimately economic power.

Politicians from around the world met twelve years ago at the turn of the Century to issue the "Millennium Declaration" which was supposed to be a call for the elimination of poverty by 2020; does anyone believe these politicians with their dirty imperialist wars carrying out Wall Street's and Bay Street's neo-liberal agenda will do anything except make poverty worse?

Occupy Wall Street opened the door to challenge Wall Street and Bay Street for power; Idle No More has pushed that door open even wider. Wall Street and Bay Street are pushing back from the other side of the door trying to prevent the people from coming to power.

Let's help Chief Theresa Spence and Idle No More kick open wide the doors of the Canadian Parliament and crush the reactionary Conservatives led by the racist neo-liberal Stephen Harper so the voices of the First Nation's Peoples will be heard and acted upon--- justice requires we do no less; in the process of struggle and solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada we help open the doors to political and economic power for working people in both Canada and the United States.

Bay Street and Wall Street are our common enemies; let's unite to drive these greedy racists from political and economic power. People and the environment must come before the profits of Bay Street and Wall Street.   

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell: 651-587-5541

Primary E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net
E-mail: alan.maki1951mn@gmail.com

Blog: http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/