Views & Comments Number 34
VIEWS & COMMENTS
a libertarian league publication
IN THIS ISSUE:
The Negro Struggle Sharpens
Tyranny Shaken In The Caribbean
The Anti-War Movement: Illusions and Delusions
Letter From Argentina
VIEWS AND COMMENTS is published as often as finances permit by the New York Group of the Libertarian League.
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Negro Struggle Sharpens
The fight of the Negro people for recognition as first class human beings, against the opposition of white racists, in both north and south, continues on many fronts. The character of our small publication does not permit us to give it the full coverage that it merits, since our "news" is likely to be old by the time we reach our readers. However, we cannot but add our voice and our efforts to those of the many others who are supporting this struggle.
The Youth March for Integration last October attracted world-wide attention. Some 12,000 young people of all races, and from all parts of the country, rallied in Washington D.C., where the "little white father" refused to receive their representatives or accept their petitions.
A second Youth March for Integration will descend on Washington on Saturday, April 18, 1959. Although we libertarians are more than skeptical of the practical value of petition campaigns and protests in Washington, we feel that as a means of arousing people, and mobilizing masses to the point where they can feel their strength, such a movement as this has positive value. One thing can lead to another. The fight for school integration is a step in the long upward fight of the whole American people for greater social justice.
In many sections of the south, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is undergoing severe persecution. Both legal and illegal measures are being used against them. As usual some of the least legal methods are being used by the representatives of the established legal authorities.
The Negroes and their organizations have displayed magnificent discipline and excessive restraint in the recent months of struggle.
One cannot help but wonder at what point the policy of non-violent resistance practiced so far in Alabama, will have to be reinforced by realistic actions of self-defense against the attacks of uniformed thugs, be the uniform the KKK nightshirt or the blue jacket and badge of the official defenders of "law and order."
In any case our place is alongside the people that are fighting for their elementary rights as human beings. More power to them.
Tyranny Shaken in the Caribbean
The overthrow of the odious dictator, Fulgencio Batista, by a few thousand armed irregulars and the not-too-passive resistance of the whole Cuban people, has thrilled all lovers of Liberty and has given new hope to the millions still writhing under the heels of tyranny in many countries. It has given new hope to the people of Santo Domingo and Hungary, of Nicaragua and Korea, to the tormented masses of Russia and of South Africa. Every tyrant that falls renews the hope for a better ultimate tomorrow.
In its subservience to the North American sugar interests and also to the foreign gambling racketeers, in the venality within its ranks, and in the excessive brutality of its police forces, the Batista dictatorship was excelled only by that of the Trujillo family in the Dominican Republic. Batista was the first ruler of Cuba to violate the extra-territoriality of the Diplomatic Corps and the traditional inviolability of the University of Havana. The opposition in Cuba consisted of the near-totality of the population.
Foremost in the struggle against Batista from the beginning was the Federation of University Students (FEU), five successive presidents of which were murdered by Batista's police. In all, several thousand students were killed, and they, on their part, had maintained a running battle with reprisals against the uniformed thugs, bombings and sabotage, culminating in an attack on the Presidential Palace (March 13, 1957), in which Batista himself narrowly escaped the justice of the enraged youth of Havana.
Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement was not based directly on either the workers' or the peasants' or the student-intellectual movements as such. Although its origin goes further back, its effective action started with the landing of 82 men in the southeastern province of Oriente, December 2, 1956. Nearly all of this original invasion force were killed almost immediately. The survivors fortified themselves in the roughest mountain terrain of the Sierra Maestra where hundreds flocked to join them. The permanent armed resistance of this small guerrilla army in the hills inspired the masses more than had the numerous sporadic demonstrations and outbreaks in the large cities. The romantic appeal was tremendous. Rebellious acts elsewhere in the island were many times erroneously credited to the 26th of July Movement. The popular imagination was fired with the vision of the bearded rebel on horseback. To a considerable extent the red and black banner of Fidel Castro came to symbolize the whole struggle against Batista.
Every revolutionary movement against tyranny has, by its very nature, some social content, and that of Fidel Castro has been no exception. However the 26th of July Movement has only advocated consistently one thing—the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista. Little indication was given as to what should be done the day after victory. No bold program of social transformation was presented, simply a vague promise of "democracy." There were occasional general references to agrarian reform and more rural schools but nothing very concrete even in the way of promises.
In the flush of victory, Fidel announced that United States interests would be protected and encouraged, while his brother Raul declared that the foreigners' strangle-hold on Cuba's sugar mills and plantations must be broken through expropriation. This lack of a consistent, positive program attracted political opportunists of all shades. Catholic Action and the Communist Party were both active and influential in the 26th of July ranks during the months in the mountains, and presumably still are, in spite of Castro's anti-communist statements.
In the course of the struggle, Fidel Castro has given evidence of a totalitarian orientation. His prima donna attitude is well known. Until the signing of the Pact of Caracas, he openly refused to cooperate with other revolutionary opposition forces on anything resembling a basis of equality.
The Revolutionary Directorate, composed of students (FEU), intellectual and other elements, had stepped up its fight in the urban centers and had managed to establish a "second front" with its own guerrilla forces in the Sierra del Escambray of Central Cuba. It was primarily these people of the Escambray and the "Autenticos" who later took the city of Santa Clara, precipitating the final military phase of the revolution.
The anti-Batista labor elements, grouped largely around the "Autenticos" Party of ex-President Carlos Prio Socarras and the Libertarian Association, found grounds for cooperation with the Revolutionary Directorate. Fidel Castro however, rejected all proposals aimed at coordinated action unless he were first recognized as the supreme leader of the revolution. A general strike that might very well have overthrown Batista months ago was aborted and failed miserably due to this lack of coordination.
A military stalemate had been reached. Batista had been well armed by the U.S. and Great Britain. The growing ranks of the revolution lacked the armament for a military victory and the program for a political victory. At this point, Romulo Betancourt, "democratic-socialist" President-elect of Venezuela, called a unity conference of representatives of the various anti-Batista organizations. Out of this conference came the Pact of Caracas, in which, by way of "compromise," Castro's candidate for the provisional presidency—Urrutia—was accepted by all of the groups in the interest of unity.
This Pact was the condition for unlimited Venezuelan support, and armament from Venezuela flowed into Cuba in large amounts. The big push was prepared, strategically well-timed to coincide with the eve of the sugar harvest. Santa Clara was occupied and the revolution had cut the island in the middle. With the harvest due and un-postponable, the economic and military position of the Government had become untenable. The rats started to abandon the ship; Batista took off for Trujillo-land to join Peron and Perez Jimenez, his bags bulging with currency. The Cuban workers came out on general strike and the mopping-up was then a matter of hours.
Immediately the dictatorship of Batista had fallen, steps were taken by Castro and Urrutia to assure the greatest possible concentration of power in the hands of the 26th of July Movement. The commitments and assurances given the other groups in the Pact of Caracas were broken. The Urrutia Government was obviously not going to be a "Government of the Revolution;" it was already a government of the 26th of July Movement. Elections were scheduled for 18 months in the future, in order to give time for the consolidation of this "provisional" government.
The top leadership in all of the labor organizations was replaced by followers of Fidel Castro. In many cases the old leaders had been supporters of Batista, but in others they had not been. Castro's appointees are mostly individuals who have been completely unknown as active unionists.
It was announced that all civilians holding arms were to surrender them to the newly constituted authorities. The People in Arms who had won the revolution were to be disarmed by the new Man on Horseback.
Following the "liberation," our comrades of the Libertarian Association of Cuba resumed publication of their paper, El Libertario, which had been suppressed years before. They had participated actively in the revolution in close cooperation with the Revolutionary Directorate and in a bloc with the labor elements of the "Autenticos" Party. Some of them had fought in the 26th of July ranks and others in the Sierra del Escambray and in the mountains of Pinar del Rio. In the first issue of El Libertario, they called for the democratization of the labor unions with no governmental interference, raising also the demand that there be no disarmament of the people.
It is too soon to draw any balance sheet of the Cuban Revolution. If no concessions are made to the masses in the form of genuine deep-running social changes, then it may well be that we have only witnessed its first stage. As matters stand today, there is definite danger of a new dictatorship with Fidel Castro, the revolutionary hero of today, firmly in the saddle. Such a dictatorship, based on amass party of yes-men, might in the long run prove even more dangerous than the one that preceded it.
In any case, in our enthusiasm over the fall of the tyrant Batista, we must never lose sight of the full reality. This has been a partial victory—a great victory—but still a partial one. The Cuban Revolution, although it is a people's revolution, has not yet become a social revolution, and while the social sores that gave rise to Batista still fester, one cannot consider the disease afflicting the island to have been cured.
In the broader, ultimate sense, no revolutionary government could achieve the necessary social transformation that would solve the problems facing Cuba. This can only be accomplished by the people themselves, participating actively and directly in the reorganization of all of society. Without the elimination of the whole statist principle and the exploitation of man by man, any number of social reforms can be but palliatives and not cures.
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The Cuban Revolution has already set into motion a number of forces heretofore relatively quiescent, aimed at the elimination of other dictatorial regimes in the Caribbean area. For decades the Trujillos and the Somozas have ruled Santo Domingo and Nicaragua as their own private estates. Dynasties have been established under which the aging or dying dictator bequeaths the power to another member of his family. All internal opposition has been ruthlessly suppressed.
Fidel Castro in Cuba and Romulo Betancourt in Venezuela, apparently with the support of Figueres in Costa Rica, have declared their intention of intervening against the remaining dictatorships in the Caribbean. At the present moment an international armed force is being readied to attack Trujillo under the banner of the 27th of February organization of Dominicans in exile. Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and others are already being recruited for this purpose.
As enemies of tyranny, these revolutionary legionnaires merit our fullest support, along with the warning that they beware the ambitions of their leaders. It appears possible that for Fidel Castro, active support of a revolutionary war against Trujillo may provide him with the opportunity to further consolidate himself at home and build anew modern Cuban army that can then serve to keep him in power.
In recent decades, it has been axiomatic to say that the days of the barricades and of guerrilla warfare are over, that the modern instruments of suppression and repression invalidate all past experience in these fields. It would be childish not to recognize that tanks and airplanes and atomic bombs have altered the "science" of revolution. But many of the old methods can be brought up to date.
The Hungarian Workers' Revolution of 1956 and the Cuban Revolution of 1958 have both demonstrated that a people in arms is perfectly capable of overcoming the armed might of a modern state. Herein lies great future hope for the oppressed on both sides of the "iron curtain."
Fidel Castro recently requested the United States to withdraw from Cuba, the Military Mission attached to the U.S. Embassy there. He said that since his few guerrillas had licked the much larger American-trained Cuban army, it was obvious that the U.S. Military Mission was useless.
The Trojan Horse Carries the Cross to Labor's Camp
Recent issues of Views and Comments have quoted liberally from the official organ of the Mechanics Educational Society of America (MESA), The MESA Educator. It was a pleasure to note that here was a union which was far above the ordinary capitalist-minded business unions. Although we do not think that the MESA, or any other union, should favor ballot box action or advocate the building of a Labor Party, the MESA was militant and democratic and animated by socialist ideals. Despite its affiliation to the AFL-CIO, the MESA courageously denounced the false policies of the two top leaders, George Meany and Walter Reuther. It was therefore with considerable shock that we read in the MESA Educator of Feb. 1959, an article that, in effect, repudiates everything that this organization has stood for, and which does not belong in any labor paper.
The article in question is called: "LABOR IS FLOUNDERING, IGNORING THE SPIRIT OF UNIONISM." In the opening paragraph, it rightfully declares that, "Labor is floundering about under the present leadership and the AFL-CIO President Meany has lost his spirit of trade unionism and is wandering up the alley of 'no return'. Correct also, are the charges that the activities of the Senate Racket Committee aided by the press and the bosses are part of a plot to wreck the labor movement, and the claim that the AFL-CIO leadership is violating the autonomy of its affiliated unions by forbidding any agreements with the Teamsters Union, agreements which at times are absolutely necessary for the welfare of some unions in strikes and other situations.
But when these accusations are made by a Roman Catholic priest, Father J.L. Donohue, C.S.V., our suspicions are aroused. This priest is the chaplain of the Chicago Building Trades Council and is a member of the Metal Lathers Union. The tenor of the article shows that the Church is up to its old tricks. It infiltrates the American unions by supporting both factions in the AFL-CIO conflict with the Teamsters' bloc. In this case, Father Donohue's part is to help the Teamsters' Union and its allies in the building trades.
Our suspicions are confirmed when we learn that Father Donohue's union, the Metal Lathers, voted against the expulsion of the Teamsters' Union from the. AFL-CIO.
We are even more distrustful when we read a hypocritical defense of the principle of autonomy by a priest of the Catholic Church where there is no autonomy. Since the Pope, through his hierarchy, gives the orders and the faithful obey. It is true that the AFL-CIO leadership had—and has—no right to usurp the autonomy of the Teamsters or any other union, but Father Donohue conveniently ignores the well-established fact that the officials in the Teamsters and other unions do not themselves practice what they preach. They want only the unrestricted right to exercise their dictatorship over their own organizations. They want autonomy only for -themselves. The will to power knows no bounds. The leaders of the Teamsters' bloc as well as their rivals, are labor imperialists who are struggling for the domination of the American ''working class.
That Father Donohue is playing the political game of the Teamsters' bloc can be seen by the tenor of the article and by his own statements. The article declares that, "... he (Father Donohue) commended James Hoffa for aggressive and militant service. He wished that more men in the labor movement had his qualities, for such alertness would serve well in the cold war being waged against organized labor... Personally, if I were to get in a war, I would feel more secure in having a few Jimmy Hoffas on my side then some of the Brain Trust (sic) of the organized labor movement." Donohue's article reeks with the labor doctrine of Catholicism. Ignoring the fact that the most serious charges against Hoffa, Beck and others are true, Father Donohue whitewashes these scurvy racketeers. He confuses the issue when he fails to point out that in the anti-labor war against the unions it was Hoffa and Co. who supplied the enemy with ammunition.
Father Donohue depicts Hoffa and the other racketeers as "martyrs" in the cause of labor who are being victimized by the Senate Rackets Committee and the AFL-CIO leadership. He even compares them to the "martyrs" of the church in the following terms: "My church is 2,000 years old and whenever nations or individuals have sought to destroy it, they first destroyed her Bishops, Priests and Sisters, or marred their character. Thus the people would be without leadership and guidance and would be weakened in their religious beliefs and practices. Here, too, the enemies of organized labor seek to destroy the labor movement, through ruining the character and respect for her leaders, hoping by it to leave the workers without guidance."
The workers are being lied to and exploited not only by the bosses, but also by the Judas Iscariots of the labor movement, the Hoffas, the Meanys and the Becks, the Dubinskys and the Reuthers.
In attacking the anti-labor bias and distortions of the press, Father Donohue is very careful to condemn only the secular press, saying nothing at all about the religious press. He sneaks in the labor doctrine of his church, which is based on the proposition that labor and capital should be friends. He appeals to the Christian sentiments of the bosses and begs them to "...fall on their knees and pray to Almighty God for the opportunity of being able to help their fellow-men. When will they understand that there need be no war, for labor needs capital and capital needs labor?"
In calling for the resignation of President Meany, this priest is acting in support of the Hoffa faction in its fight for control of the labor movement. The strategy is clear. Should this present tactic fail the ground will be prepared for the emergence of a rival federation. It is too early to predict the many possible consequences of this power struggle. One thing only is certain; the union members stand to be the losers, labor as a whole will be weakened, and the employers will be enabled to take maximum advantage of the situation.
Small unions at present affiliated to one or the other of the big power combinations, but which themselves still retain a certain amount of autonomy and decency, must struggle to survive. They are always in danger of being swallowed up by the bigger organizations which are ever alert to the chance of membership raids. Permanent safety cannot be found in either the AFL-CIO or the Teamster bloc. The price of "protection" is the domination of the small union by the unscrupulous machine. Appeasement at the expense of principle 'can only lead to capitulation. Deep-going changes will have to be made if this process of moral disintegration is to be halted.
A mere change in the leadership will not suffice. The time-tested principle of workers' solidarity must be re-established. Mutual assistance agreements among the men on the job within their own unions, and among members of various unions, is of the very essence of true labor organization. The leaders must not be allowed to continue to deny the right of the workers to practice solidarity at all times and under all circumstances. This is a matter of principle that is just as basic as the right to strike.
The re-conquest of this right is one of the first necessary steps on the long road towards labor's emancipation.
The Anti-War Movement: Illusions and delusions
Specialization tends to make men narrow-minded, so that they cannot see the woods for the trees. Such people often mistake the part for the whole. The religious fanatic sees the world according to his particular dogma. The physicist, the biologist, the psychologist, the lawyer, the engineer, the penologist, the militarist, the clergyman, each is inclined to interpret events according to his own particular- discipline. Specialization is unavoidable in a complex society, but it can easily get out of hand, and create attitudes that are disastrous when applied to political, economic and other vital social problems.
The most critical problem facing mankind today is that of war. The prevention of a new holocaust should be the central consideration of the whole race of man, threatened by total, very permanent extinction. Yet this problem is treated as though it were a separate question, independent of the conditions that have caused it and of the institutions that promote it.
From such thinking comes the false idea that the State, economic and cultural monopoly, nationalism and the will to power, are all separate, independent problems, not directly related to the problem of war. From this kind of thinking flows the illusion that the State, the "impartial and benevolent architect of Man's destiny," is capable of preventing war, that the exploiters who profit from war industry are by nature kindly but misguided men who will gladly surrender their lucrative but bloody business once they see the light, that power-hungry dictators or elected politicians can be induced to forget their greed for each others' territory and natural resources and can peacefully settle their disputes in the chambers of the United Nations.
Too many people separate theory from action in today's world. In every field of human endeavor, theory is a guide to meaningful action and an adequate social philosophy is indispensible to the understanding of events and the forces that shape them. Without a clear conception of the nature of the social problem, no effective plan of action can be developed. To continually correct and broaden our theories is essential to progress. Certain sectors of the anti-war movement suffer serious deficiencies in this area.
As a case in point, we take the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. This organization is composed of able and sincere men and women who are vitally concerned with the preservation of Mankind and whose human intentions deserve universal respect. Good intentions, however, are not enough. The question is: Can the recommendations of this Committee accomplish its avowed aim: the stopping of nuclear tests as a first step towards total disarmament? In a full-page advertisement in the New York Times (Feb. 19, 1959), this Committee makes an appeal to: "Mr. Eisenhower... Mr. Khrushchev... Mr. MacMillan..." and goes on to say:
"The Time is Now!! The people of the world have hopefully watched your representatives meet in Geneva. They have been heartened by the progress that has been made in writing a Treaty to end the nuclear weapons tests... The men meeting in Geneva have given us hope—that the dangers of radioactive fallout will not be increased—hope that the world need not continue to drift toward extinction in a suicidal arms race."
The statement then goes on to lament the suspicions and distrust of the governments towards each other and condemns the obstacles being raised by those who do not want an agreement." It declares that "the problems will not be solved unless a strong will exists in each country for reaching agreement."
It is then pointed out—and rightly—that other countries such as France, Germany and Communist China—will soon possess nuclear arms and that the danger of war—"by incident or accident will increase rapidly.... By mid 1960, when missiles are hidden underground, inspection will be virtually impossible and the world will face a point of no return in ultimate peril." The suggested course of action is to "write your own letters to the President, your Senators and your Congressman," to sign agreement with the Committee's statement in a space provided at the bottom of the page, and to contribute funds to further the Committee's activities.
The statement referred to raises a number of questions that it does not attempt to answer. Who is responsible for the arms race, the nuclear weapons and the testing? Why do the governments distrust each other? Who are those that are raising obstacles to an agreement? The history of recent years gives but one obvious answer to all three questions. It is the Governments themselves!!! To a considerable extent this can be deduced from the information along with the published statement. In a boxed column, the committee identifies those who, in this country, are raising obstacles to an agreement. They are accused of "misleading" the people about the nonexistent "clean bomb," about the pollution of milk, about "limited" nuclear war and about underground tests. But who are "they?" None other than the Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Defense—Both important U.S. Government agencies!!
The Geneva pow-wows have been going on since November, 1958 and nothing has been or will be accomplished. Three weeks were spent in talking about what to talk about. All of the technical arrangements for the stopping of nuclear tests and for a system of inspection had been prepared by the scientists and technicians. Then the governmental politicians—English, Russian and American—raised all sorts of objections. A further Conference on how to prevent surprise attacks adjourned with nothing accomplished after six weeks and thirty sessions.
Is it not clear that the addressing of appeals to the very power-forces that are most responsible for this greatest danger ever faced by mankind is the ultimate absurdity?
The efforts of the Committee For A Sane Nuclear Policy can have no effective results because they are talking to the wrong people. They are exerting pressure where it can do the least good. Why is there no mention whatever of the scientists, the industrial workers, and the educators? They are the only ones who can really stop war. This Committee is seeking a solution to the problem of war within the very system that causes war, in the belief that this system can correct its own mistakes, thus perpetuating a dangerous illusion that in today's conditions may well be fatal. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the big labor organizations of all countries take an even more reactionary position and actively support the foreign policies of their respective governments, thus lending moral endorsement to mass crime and material aid to it through participation in the production of armaments.
An effective peace movement must strike at the root causes of war—human exploitation and the State with its satellite institutions—the churches, the press and the military machine. All anti-war action, to be effective, must be aimed at educating the people, making them aware of their own power and encouraging their opposition to these institutions. The tactics of the peace movement must be based on the conviction that the struggle against war is inseparably tied up with the struggle for a new and better social system.
The German scientists who refused to cooperate in war preparations have shown the road not only to the international scientific community but to all the world's people. The dramatic attempts of the "Golden Rule" and the "Phoenix" to sail into the Pacific nuclear testing area last year, the picketing of missile bases here and in England, France and elsewhere, are helping to arouse ever more people from their lethargy and show them that they can act effectively. Exposing the lies of the warmongers and spreading true information about the destructive power of nuclear weapons and the dangers of fallout are also valuable steps in the right direction.
When all factors are considered, it appears that the best weapon of the peace movement is International Solidarity. Not the politicians, but the scientists, the manual workers, the technicians and the teachers, must organize on an international scale for united direct action leading to a General Strike against war. At this stage there can be no guarantee that this will be done in time. But—there is no other way!
Libertarian Youth Group Formed In N.Y.
The general orientation of the Libertarian League has always been directed towards the attraction of young people to our movement. The membership of the League itself largely consists of people under the age of 30. Until recently no real attempt was made however to establish a separate "youth" organization. All too often in the radical movement, their "youth" sections have consisted of young adults whose activity largely duplicated that of the adult organization.
The Libertarian Youth Club was formally established in New York on Sunday, March first, with ten teenagers. Since then and up to going to press, more members have joined the club. A number of others in the same age group are expected to join in the very near future-
The following Statement of Principles was approved at the initial meeting:
"The Libertarian Youth Club is against all forms of exploitation of man by man, and is against the inhuman institution of war which is a crime against Humanity and which never really helps anyone. The Libertarian Youth will take part in all efforts to do away with racial inequality and discrimination and to eliminate every kind of injustice.
"We will work to improve ourselves and the world that we live in, in every way—morally, intellectually and materially. Among ourselves we will stand together and work together in every way and we will try to spread these ideas among all people with whom we come in contact.
"We shall always try to think for ourselves individually and strive to be self-reliant and responsible in all our thoughts and in all our actions. No one of us should ever accept what others say or believe without examining it for ourselves, -understanding it ourselves, and making up our own 'minds.
"One of the best ways to spread our ideas of Brotherhood and Solidarity is by setting the best example through our own actions and in our own lives. At all times we should have consideration for other people, respecting their feelings and their opinions, but without fear of expressing our own ideas.
"Members of the Libertarian Youth Club will work together with the Libertarian League, helping it in its work to bring about a better world of Freedom and Solidarity for all people everywhere."
The founding members of the Libertarian Youth Club have signed the following agreement:
"We, the undersigned, agree to form the Libertarian Youth Club on the basis of the attached Statement of Purpose.
"By joining this Club, we promise to do our best to act seriously and responsibly. We will stick together in all things and help and protect each other at all times.
"We will respect and try to protect and improve the premises and property of the Libertarian Center and Libertarian League, as though they were our own, which, in effect, they are, collectively speaking.
"We will try to spread our ideas and bring other serious-minded young people to the Club.
"We will try to attend all meetings regularly, and will carry out whatever assignments we ourselves undertake."
Working Class Internationalism by Germinal Esgleas
(Gen. Sec.—International Working Mens Association)
The workers of each country adapt themselves to the industrial And economic development of their respective countries and their partial struggles are in each case conditioned by the environment in which they live. Their efforts are primarily directed at the conquest of immediate objectives that are usually of a material nature and take place within the framework that has been imposed upon them by the monopolistic capitalist system and by bourgeois society in general.
In such circumstances it is capitalism and/or the State that have the initiative and the last word. Frequently the workers struggle against each other, against their own brothers in exploitation, caught in the tight meshes of the system that entangles the working class in the contradictions of the exploitative society itself.
One of the most dangerous of these contradictions for the workers is evidenced when they identify their own interests with narrow national interests, when they bind themselves to the economic nationalism of their respective countries, that is to say, to the interests of the controlling classes of their own particular countries. This nationalism is based on the existing industrial structures and on the corresponding divisions within the working class.
Paradoxically—far from uniting the workers within any given country,—economic or monopolistic nationalism gives rise to internal struggles- And antipathies among them.
Furthermore, economic nationalism turns the workers away from the natural objective of their own emancipation and acts as a barrier to international solidarity. It is thus that capitalism and the State win one of their greatest victories.
The divisive effects of this nationalism can be clearly seen within the mastodonic labor union internationals.
Economic interdependence among countries is well known, and that among the various sections of the world Working Class is just as real. The bonds of international solidarity among workers must be strengthened, at the expense of nationalism. The struggle of the world proletariat must not be frittered away on the side-roads And in the dead-ends of national interests and national differences.
With the great dangers facing the labor movements of all countries today—dangers that are rooted in the basic contradictions of today's social systems and of the great power-blocs struggling for hegemony—the objectives of the world: proletariat should be very clear and precise. The first of these objectives must be unity with a strengthening of the bonds of international solidarity. The second, (which cannot be long postponed, but which at the same time cannot be allowed to interfere with the urgent partial battles for immediate demands) is to get the fundamental struggle under way on both national and international levels.
The objective? The elimination of all States and all exploitation, preventing the establishment of dictatorships in any form, establishing solid bases everywhere for a new world—free and just on a foundation of human solidarity.
Franco Regime Breaking up from Within
Franco's "Glorious Crusade" in 1936-39 served the combined interests of all the reactionary forces in Spain. The Church, the Monarchists, the Military, Falange (caricature of the Nazi and Italian Fascist movements), and the national and foreign capitalists who saw their opportunities for exploitation threatened by the rising temper of the masses, and all found a common denominator and a banner in the "Caudillo," Francisco Franco. Today, his usefulness is past. Franco's regime, discredited at home and abroad, eaten away by the cancer of internal corruption, can no longer serve its original purpose.
It is only thanks to the economic aid and military support of the U.S. Government that Franco has for so long survived his allies, Hitler and Mussolini. Now, however, a bloc of clerical and monarchist forces, reinforced by dissident elements of Falange itself, is actively engaged in preparing his downfall.
The international press and radio have announced the adherence of the "Spanish Anarchist Federation" to the new opposition grouping. To our knowledge, there is no such organization, although the Iberian Anarchist Federation (F.A.I.) continues to survive and fight in the underground, and the very idea of anarchist participation in a bloc with the monarcho-clerical opposition is ridiculous on the face of it.
Solidaridad Obrera (Paris edition, Feb. 26, 1959), organ of the National Confederation of Labor (CNT) in exile, declares its unwillingness to believe that any of the political "collaborationist" elements who split out of the C.N.T. in the '40s can be involved in this particular political bloc. The reports appear to have been a propaganda maneuver by those interested in disseminating confusion. In any case, no revolutionist is buying it.
On the other hand, the deep division in the ranks of the forces of the ex-"Glorious Crusade" cannot but be viewed with satisfaction. We await with interest the recall of the American ambassador, as happened recently in Cuba, when the State Department saw fit to switch its support from Batista to Castro.
The Military "Mind" and Our Children by Alan Graham (S.F.)
In San Francisco, and in all the towns and big cities that I have visited, I've noticed something that has disturbed me greatly and which has seldom been brought to the attention of the thinking public. This is the children's toy business.
It has caused me great horror to see, in the window displays of all the children's toy stores throughout our militarist country, countless symbols of death such as missiles, warplanes, flame throwers and other such "charming" toys to mold the character of the young. It is quite in the line of thinking of the political and business "leaders" that it is fine for young children to be conditioned to go out on the fields of slaughter to preserve their way of life. According to my unofficial survey that includes most of the country, 87% of children's toy displays are cluttered with the previously mentioned playthings of mass murder. It seems to me very atrocious indeed, to accept mass annihilation as away of life.
The union I belong to, the IWW, refuses to let any of the membership work at occupations of death. This is good and if other unions would take this same militant and human outlook, the exploiters could not produce bombs, let alone "death toys." It is sad indeed that the other unions, with few exceptions, cannot even bring themselves to use their economic might to save their families and themselves from impending death.
As individuals, we can refuse to purchase toys of death and can talk to shopkeepers and try to persuade them to alter their display and buying selections.
If, in the future, we are to have a healthy society, it must be made by people who want to love, build and create, not hate, exploit, kill and destroy. Such a change is long overdue.
Boris Pasternak and C. Vega Alvarez
The Labor, Liberal and Radical movements of the world, preoccupied with one catastrophic event after another, have neglected the tragic plight of the political prisoners in Franco Spain. The cases of Simon Carrasquer, Marco, and thousands of others should be publicized and an international protest movement for their release vigorously pressed.
The persecution of the Spanish writer, Cristobal Vega Alvarez, is beginning to attract international attention. We want to help by making known an article that recently appeared in two Italian newspapers, Il Lavoro Nuovo of Genoa (Jan. 13, 1959) and Il Corriere di Trieste (Jan. 8, 1959). The following is not a full translation but conveys the essence of said article:
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The European Union of Writers was formed in Naples in October, 1958. At its founding Congress, it was declared that "If one writer is censored in the exercise of his work, then all the writers of Europe must feel themselves censored. If a writer is prevented from defending his rights then all other writers must come to his aid."
The polemic aroused by the "Nobel Prize" of Boris Pasternak—quite aside from the twisting of the affair by political speculators—appeared to be a fulfillment of this pledge. Everyone was interested in Pasternak: cultural groups and associations, dailies, magazines, illustrated weeklies, radio and television stations, and preoccupation with the case continues.
But regarding the fate of the Spanish poet Cristobal Vega Alvarez, nothing is said by any of these mass media of Communication. Yet Vega Alvarez has been condemned to 36 years penal servitude for having expressed unorthodox and "subversive" opinions.
This Spanish writer is not guilty of robbery, assault or murder. His crime is a much greater one—that of thinking for himself, and expressing his thoughts in print. Members of the European Union of Writers have not as yet raised a voice in his defense. Spanish Fascism's victims are not in the limelight but they share with the persecuted Russian writers a common love of beauty, of friendship and of liberty.
Organization and the Individual Conscience by George Balkansky
Individual conscience is indispensible to social progress. It is the basis of morality, individual betterment and society as a whole. To awaken and elevate the conscience of the individual—all individuals—has been and will remain the main task of militant libertarians and revolutionary syndicalists.
However, we must recognize that there exists in our own ranks a state of mind that tends to overemphasize the importance of individual conscience as a factor in social change.
This has led the individualists to the -negation of all organization, which they regard as detrimental to individual conscience. Such a position is false in both theory and practice. It is incompatible with libertarian and revolutionary syndicalist principles. Individual conscience alone, although absolutely necessary, can never be sufficient to ensure the smooth functioning of social life in all its complexity and multiplicity.
The full development of individual conscience can only be guaranteed through the solidarity of men—by organization. We mean by organization, the free and equalitarian relations built on the principles of free association and federation. Far from restraining individual development, free organization develops and enriches it.
Without organization, individual conscience remains abstract and impotent. Only in and by organization can true individuality be achieved. This applies to "geniuses" as well as to ordinary mortals.
Conscience and organization are two aspects of the same fundamental social conception of Liberty and Solidarity.
Correspondence From Argentina by Jorge Ballesteros
This country is undergoing a large-scale imperialist intervention such as has already occurred in other Latin American countries such as Venezuela and Brazil. The Government, whose only genuine support is the armed forces, has turned over transportation and electric power to the British and North American monopolists to the tune of an impressive rising inflation.
A chaotic situation prevails in the labor movement, rooted in the venality of the Peronist leadership and the lack of any clear orientation Among the so-called "democratic" elements, most of whom are of reformist mentality. The "communists" who dominate in some fields contribute their share to the confusion of the average worker.
However, during the last general strike, when it became known that the army had attacked the workers of one packing plant with tanks and machine guns, there was a spontaneously united reaction by the rank and file. This went beyond the differences within the leadership and showed a healthy reaction against the action of the army, from which I think much can be expected in the near future.
It is especially important in these countries where the Army and other armed forces are the real government, for the labor movement to realize the need of struggle against them—using every means available against the professional militarists, through whom the national bourgeoisie and the imperialists exercise their pressure.
Is There A God? A Rationalist's Viewpoint by Andy Vena
from The Liberal, August, 1958
If there were a god—any kind of a god—with all the virtues, powers and abilities the Christians so generously attribute to their god... all-seeing, all-knowing... all-mighty... all merciful... all, etc., etc... then logically there's no imaginable valid reason why such a god shouldn't manifest his existence clearly, convincingly, conclusively, directly and individually, in any one of a million possible ways, to all men, in all ages and without the "help" of an ignorant, superstitious, parasitical, self-appointed "sales force" (the clergy), peddling various "interpretations" of bible bunkology to the gullible masses for a price. No god would for long leave his existence and his will a controversial subject among literate, intelligent, truth-seeking men—including the intellectual giants themselves in every age—sincerely trying to separate fact from fiction, knowledge from "faith," truth from lies. Further: no god mighty enough to have supposedly created the universe (out of nothing, yet!) would need to be told nor even asked, in "prayers," how to run the world or man's affairs, nor be so egotistical as to require endless "thanks" and monotonous "worship."
Libertarian Morality by J.M.
The anarchist philosophy is based upon man's inherent instinct towards mutual aid.
The idea of a natural law of mutual aid was first expressed scientifically by Darwin in his The Descent of Man. The concept was further developed by Professor Kesslor, a dean of St. Petersburg University. At a Russian Scientific Congress in 1880, Kesslor presented a paper on the law of mutual aid. He died a year later and after his death Peter Kropotkin became familiar with his work and further developed the theory of the law of mutual aid.
This natural law is the foundation of human morality. We should not confuse this law with love or with sympathy, for when human ethics are based on love and sympathy alone they have invariably contributed to a shallow, narrow comprehension of the moral feeling as a whole.
Kropotkin illustrates this point with an admirable simplicity: "It is not love of my neighbor, whom I often do not know at all which induces me to seize a pail of water and rush toward his house when I see it is on fire; it is a far greater even though more vague feeling or instinct of human solidarity and sociability which moves me." He goes on to say, "Love, sympathy and self-sacrifice certainly play an immense part in the development of our moral feelings, but it is not love and not even sympathy upon which society is based in mankind. It is the consciousness—be it only at a stage of instinct—of human solidarity. It is the unconscious recognition of the force that is borrowed by each man from the practice of mutual aid, of the close dependency of everyone's happiness upon the happiness of all—and of the sense of justice or equity which brings the individual to consider the rights of every other individual as equal to his own. Upon this broad and necessary foundation the still higher moral feelings are developed."
Let us see what Kropotkin means when he cites justice, equality, individual rights, not as moral fulfillment but simply a foundation upon which the still higher moral feelings are developed. He can only mean the assumption of an individual moral responsibility toward the well-being of every individual in the universe—and the freedom to exercise this responsibility. Can you possibly conceive a world in which every person is assuming an effective responsibility for your well-being and you for theirs? This application of a definite natural law is the morality of anarchy.
We know it cannot be achieved so long as there is capitalism, because of the corruption inherent in capitalism. We know it cannot be achieved so long as there is government because of the corruption inherent in government. We know it cannot be achieved so long as there is a money economy because of the corruption inherent therein.
Therefore, we advocate a system in which there is no capitalism, no government and no money. Anarcho-syndicalism is the structure through which such a society can be developed and maintained.
Yet, anarcho-syndicalism cannot function without a Moral Revolution. The revolution in morality cannot come, until millions of people commit themselves to the assumption of individual moral responsibility, to the struggle for a society in which they will find the freedom to exercise such an effective moral responsibility.
So, in effect, there can be no anarchist society without individual moral responsibility. Until there is an anarchist society, there can be a partially effective but not a totally effective individual morality.
Let me say in conclusion that they who seriously commit themselves to the anarchist cause and strive to live by anarchist principles are working towards the highest degree of moral evolution.
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In order to fill requests for back numbers, the League would like any surplus copies of the following issues of Views and Comments: Nos. 20, 21, 23, 24 and 27.
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Under the most rigorously controlled laboratory condition, when obtaining a quantitative measurement of the response to a controlled variable, the animal will do just as it damn well pleases.
—Harvard Law of Animal Behavior
The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession—what there is of it.
The art of government is the exclusive possession of quacks and frauds.
The Libertarian Bookshelf
The following items have been recently added to our stock:
THE BRAVE COWBOY by Edward Abbey. Paperback book, 35 cents
An unusual novel of one resourceful man and his single-handed fight against authority.
VOTE—WHAT FOR? by Errico Malatesta. Pamphlet, 5 cents
The Libertarian League has reprinted this classic item. Available in quantities at a discount.
WORKERS' CONTROL, published by the Syndicalist Workers' Federation. Pamphlet 5 cents
A fascinating study of the subject. See full report in next issue of V & C.
THE BOSSES' SONGBOOK, edited by Dave Van Ronk and Dick Ellington. Chapbook, 50 cents
A collection of radical folk-songs of satire.
We pay postage on all orders. Make checks or money orders payable to R. ELLINGTON. A complete catalogue of books and pamphlets available through the Libertarian League is available on request.
What We Stand For
Centralism, which means regimentation from the top down, must be replaced by federalism, which means co-operation from the bottom up.
THE LIBERTARIAN LEAGUE will not accept the old socio-political cliches, but will boldly explore new roads while examining anew the old movements, drawing from them all that which time and experience has proven to be valid.
Two great power blocs struggle for world domination. Neither of these represents the true interests and welfare of Humanity. Their conflict threatens mankind with atomic destruction. Underlying both of these blocs are institutions that breed exploitation, inequality and oppression.
Without trying to legislate for the future we feel that we can indicate the general lines along which a solution to these problems can be found.
The exploitative societies of today must be replaced by a new libertarian world which will proclaim—Equal freedom for all in a free socialist society. "Freedom" without socialism leads to privilege and injustice; "Socialism" without freedom is totalitarian.
The monopoly of power which is the state must be replaced by a world-wide federation of free communities, labor councils and/or co-operatives operating according to the principles of free agreement. The government of men must be replaced by a functional society based on the administration of things.
Libertarian League Activities
The Libertarian Center
86 E. 10th St. (between Third & Fourth Avenues)
Open Forum every Friday at 8 p.m.
Dinner and Social on the third Saturday of every month at 7:30 p.m.
3705 West Park Road (near Lorraine and Triskett)
Discussions on the last Friday of each month at 8 p.m.