Sunday, June 27, 2010

LET THE POETS SPEAK

Harry Targ

-Oil Spills as the Gulf of Mexico is Destroyed
-Judge with BP Stock Rules Against Government Regulation
-Several States Contemplate Arizona-Like Laws to Install Police Repression Against People of Color
-Millionaire Politicians Vote to Cut Off Benefits to the Jobless
-Media Ignores Massive Detroit Mobilization Against Poverty and War
-Media Continues to Advertise “Tea-Party” and Sarah Palin Without Ever Addressing Capitalism
(fantasy headlines by the author, morning June 26)

Some of our finest poets described so well the nature of the empire in which we live and the need for resistance against it. Meridel Le Sueur, the socialist/feminist poet, novelist, and chronicler of the Great Depression and beyond wrote with power about twentieth century America in a way that could have been written this week.

None of my sons or grandsons took up guns against you.

And all the time the predators were poisoning the humus, polluting
the water, the hooves of empire passing over us all. White
hunters were aiming down the gunsights; villages wrecked,
mine and yours. Defoliated trees, gnawed earth, blasted embryos.

We also live in a captive country, in the belly of the shark.
The horrible faces of our predators, gloating, leering,
the bloody Ford and Rockefeller and Kissinger presiding over
the violation of Asia (Meridel Le Sueur)


Langston Hughes, African American poet, captured United States history powerfully in the words of class and race

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
(Langston Hughes)

And balladeer Woody Guthrie wrote verses, often unsung, for the unofficial American anthem, “This Land is Your Land?”

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me? (Woody Guthrie)

Carl Sandburg, poet, biographer of Abraham Lincoln, and children’s author, reminded us of who has made history and ironically created the exploitation of the producing class.

I am the people--the mob--the crowd--the mass.
Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?
I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world's food and
clothes.
I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons come from me
and the Lincolns. They die. And then I send forth more Napoleons
and Lincolns.
I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand for much plowing.
Terrible storms pass over me. I forget. The best of me is sucked out
and wasted. I forget. Everything but Death comes to me and makes
me work and give up what I have. And I forget.

Poets usually are driven by a vision of a better world. For Langston Hughes:

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

And for Woody Guthrie:

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.


And finally poets offer the hope of resistance and change:

How can we touch each other, my sisters?
How can we hear each other over the criminal space?
How can we touch each other over the agony of bloody roses?
I always feel you near, your sorrow like a wind in the
great legend of your resistance, your strong and delicate strength.

It was the bumble bee and the butterfly who survived, not the dinosaur.
(Meridel Le Sueur)

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me. (Woody Guthrie)


Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red drops for history to
remember. Then--I forget.

When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the People, use the
lessons of yesterday and no longer forget who robbed me last year,
who played me for a fool--then there will be no speaker in all the
world say the name: "The People," with any fleck of a sneer in his
voice or any far-off smile of derision.

The mob--the crowd--the mass--will arrive then. (Carl Sandburg)

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again! (Langston Hughes)


Selections from the following poems:

Meridel Le Sueur, “Doan Ket,” http://workingwomen.wikispaces.com/lesueur

Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again,” http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/83

Woody Guthrie, “This Land is Your Land?”
http://woodyguthrie.org/Lyrics/This_Land.

Carl Sandburg, “I Am the People, the Mob,”
http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15264

Sunday, June 20, 2010

KOREA:"OUR FORGOTTEN WAR"

Harry Targ


"If we stand up to them [the communists] . . . they won't take any next steps. There's no telling what they'll do if we don't put up a fight now."

President Harry Truman at the outbreak of the Korean War, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 20, 2010


On June 25, 1950, communist-backed troops from North Korea invaded a hopelessly overmatched South Korea. American-led U.N. forces quickly came to the aid of South Korea, but the war unexpectedly escalated five months later when China, in support of North Korea, launched a massive attack on U.N. forces near the Yalu River.

Three years of brutal fighting followed as both armies hurled each other up and down the Korean peninsula. More than 54,000 U.S. soldiers died during the war, which technically has never officially ended but has been in a prolonged cease-fire since 1953.

North Korea often states that it is still at war, but the reality is that tenacious fighting by U.S. and U.N. soldiers successfully repelled the invading communist forces and pushed them back across the 38th Parallel border. South Korea remains a free nation, one of the most prosperous in Asia, while North Korea is one of the most repressive.

Chris Gibbons, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 20, 2010

The Annual Fantasy

Americans relive and debate the Vietnam War. Analysts discuss “the Vietnam Syndrome,” the “albatross” that shackled every president, and/or claims about where every candidate for public office was during Vietnam. To the contrary, the Korean War, which in the words of the U.S. government was launched by the aggressive invasion of North Korean armies below the 38th parallel into South Korea 60 years ago on June 25, 1950, is beyond question.

As newspapers often title Korea, “Our Forgotten War,” the story is simple; Communist aggressors (inspired by Moscow) invaded a free nation (South Korea). The Americans mobilized United Nations support and boldly counter-attacked forcing the Communist aggressors back North. Then, the story goes, the US-led army of the free people went North of the 38th parallel to liberate North Korea from its dictatorship. This invasion was foiled by a massive Chinese Communist military response. While a ceasefire was established in 1953, conflict on the peninsula remains between the prosperous and free South Korea and the poor and totalitarian North Korea.

Key Facts

This fantasy, created in 1950, set the stage for a sixty year rationalization for trillions of dollars of military spending, hundreds of thousands of US soldiers killed and wounded, and the deaths of millions of people, largely from the Global South, who were unwilling hosts of wars, interventions, and domestic violence related to the Cold War.

Just a brief examination of the history of the Far East suggests that the fantasy is just that. The Korean Peninsula was colonized by the Japanese before World War I. At the end of World War II, with their defeat, Koreans all across the peninsula believed that they, at last, would be able to establish their own independent government. “Peoples Assemblies” began to meet to plan for a post-war Korean government. However, at the urging of the United States, it and the Soviet Union agreed to divide the peninsula at the 38th parallel until such time as an independent government, desirable to the victorious powers could be established.

The United States government over the next three years brought exiled Korean Syngman Rhee back to the country to establish a government in the US occupied zone. Rhee, an √©migr√© with ties to large landowners, was not popular with South Korean farmers, many of whom rebelled against the new government imposed by Washington. In areas where rebellions were stifled, the United Nations held “elections” for a new government. Rhee and his party were victorious. And in the North, a regime allied with the Soviet Union was established led by Kim Il Sung, long-time Korean Communist party organizer.

In 1948 Soviet troops were withdrawn from the North and in 1949 US troops from the South. Both leaders, Syngman Rhee and Kim Il Sung, declared their commitments to liberate the other half to establish one Korean government. Some US congressmen began to balk at Truman requests to continue to fund the corrupt Rhee government in the South.

In May, 1950 Republican spokesman on foreign policy John Foster Dulles visited South Korea and spoke in support of Syngman Rhee, whose domestic support was faltering, and then Rhee and Dulles flew off to the Tokyo headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur, overseer of post-war Japan. It is important to note that shots had been fired both ways across the 38th parallel for months before these events.

Finally, as the official story suggests, North Korean troops invaded the South on June 25, 1950. South Korean military forces, heavily subsidized and trained by the United States, fled South and within a month much of the country below the 38th parallel was occupied by Northern armies.

Then the US, with UN support, launched a counter-assault in September, 1950, led by General MacArthur, who already had declared his vision of creating a Christian and anti-Communist Asia. North Korean armies were forced back north of the 38th parallel and with the urging of MacArthur and other virulent Cold Warriors in the Truman administration an apocryphal decision was made to take the war to the North. The Chinese, fearful of an invasion of their own land, entered the war on the side of North Korean armies. The Korean War was extended until 1953 and a troubled ceasefire was established that still prevails today.

What the Real History Suggests

First, as historian Robert Simmons wrote: “There were constant and sizeable armed clashes and border incursions between the North and South for over a year before the final crisis…the Seoul regime enjoyed little popular support…it had announced its intention to invade the North and appeared to be preparing to do so…”

Second, the division of Korea in 1945 defied the wishes of the Korean people, Communist and non-Communist alike. In the South, Syngman Rhee was regarded as an outsider and representative of the small land-owning class of Koreans (a character similar to Chiang Kai-Shek in China, and Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam).

Third, the Korean War was in fact a civil war which the Truman administration chose to define as the first great conflagration in the global struggle against worldwide Communism. Many scholars suggest to the contrary that North Korean Kim Il Sung’s decision to invade the South was made by him without approval or support from the Soviet Union. In fact, the Soviet delegate at the United Nations was boycotting the Security Council at the time the Council voted to condemn the invasion of the South. If the Soviet delegate was aware of the planned invasion he probably would have attended the Security Council session to veto the US resolution condemning the North Korean invasion.

Consequences of “Our Forgotten War”

The decision by the Truman administration to enter the war to “save” the Rhee regime in the South signified a permanent commitment to an imperial policy that continues to this day. As political scientist Hans Morgenthau once wrote, after the Korean War started reversing US/Soviet conflicts and the militarization of the world was no longer possible.

The Korean War gave support to those Truman administration advocates for the full militarization of United States foreign policy and US society. National Security Council Document 68 had been circulating inside the administration at that time. It called for a dramatic increase in annual military spending based on the proposition that each president should give the military all it wanted before any other expenditures for government programs were adopted. Specifically it called for an immediate four-fold increase in military spending, a proposal that some fiscal conservatives had opposed. After Korea virtually all restrictions on military spending were lifted.

Additional byproducts of the new US commitment to a Korean War included the following: finalizing the construction of an anti-Communist Japanese economy to balance the new Chinese Communist regime; making permanent the US financial commitment to the French in Indochina (a prelude to the next big war, in Vietnam); circulating the idea of an Asian military alliance to be called the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO); expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); and stimulating anti-Communist repression domestically.

As we reflect on the limited economic development in the North and the dramatic growth in the South, both products of the Cold War, the impacts of “Our Forgotten War” on the Korean people should be recalled. As Joyce and Gabriel Kolko wrote:

“The United States air force had completely destroyed all usual strategic bombing targets in North Korea within three months time, and by the end of the first year of combat it had dropped 97,000 tons of bombs and 7.8 million gallons of napalm, destroying 125,000 buildings that might ‘shelter’ the enemy. In mid-1952 it turned to the systematic destruction of mines and cement plants…” and the “…Suihu hydroelectric complex on the Yalu.”

They added that Syngman Rhee rounded up 400,000 South Koreans who were put in concentration camps. The authors wrote: “The Korean War, in effect, became a war against an entire nation, civilians and soldiers, Communists and anti-Communists alike. Everything-from villages to military targets-the United States considered a legitimate target for attack.” At least four million Koreans, North and South died, were wounded, or were made homeless (Joyce and Gabriel Kolko, The Limits of Power: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1945-54).

So despite the fact that the Korean War has become “Our Forgotten War,” the decision to enter Korea globalized, militarized, and institutionalized a U.S. policy that rationalized wars on entire populations ever since.

Friday, June 11, 2010

FOREIGN POLICY AND CLASS STRUGGLE: THE EXAMPLE OF THE PACKINGHOUSE WORKERS AFTER WORLD WAR II

Harry Targ

The Connection Between Class Struggle and Peace

Foreign policy has long been used to divide workers. During the Cold War “anti-Communism” linked an external enemy with so-called domestic enemies in the labor and civil rights movements. The external enemy and its domestic collaborators justified the construction of a permanent war economy, worker sacrifices through taxes, loss of shop floor rights, and the “need” to limit labor organizing. Paradoxically, the weaknesses of the labor movement today have their roots in the mobilization of the American people to respond to the “threat of international communism.” In the post-Cold War international system cheap labor overseas and the threat of international terrorism have been used to manipulate workers and limit their ability to organize. But even during the height of the Cold War, sectors of the labor movement resisted the simplistic claims such as that declared by one CEO that the threat to America came from “the Soviet Union abroad and the labor movement at home.”

The United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA-CIO) successfully organized most of the large meat-packing plants in the United States by 1943 when it was fully chartered as a union in the new Congress of Industrial Organizations. Unfortunately after World War II ended, the CIO slowly but steadily embraced the anti-Communist policies of the day. In 1949 eleven unions were purged from the CIO for their alleged Communist sympathies and affiliations. Even though the UPWA was not one of the eleven it increasingly opposed the militarization of the Cold War, avoided some of the worst internal manifestations of “red-baiting” of union members, and, in 1953 took a stance against the U.S. Cold War record and the Korean War. It published in The Packinghouse Worker, the union newspaper, a condemnation of U.S. Korean War policy in a four-page essay entitled “The Road Ahead.”

McCarthyism, the Korean War, and “The Road Ahead”

The use of the “Communist threat” to generate support for an imperial U.S. foreign policy and repression of union militancy was well advanced by the time Senator Joseph McCarthy gave his February, 1950 speech that made him famous identifying 204 Communists in the State Department. Along with the anti-labor Taft–Hartley Act requiring union leaders to sign affidavits swearing they were not Communists, the Internal Security Act of 1950 required “Communist front” and “Communist action” groups to register with the government. Spy trials, such as those against Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs, Smith Act trials of members of the Communist Party, and investigations by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), had thoroughly poisoned the political atmosphere such that serious debate about United States foreign policy was stifled.

HUAC particularly called public hearings in communities where workers were on strike; ordering union leaders to appear to answer questions about their political affiliations. The issue of “Communism,” which was often defined as opposition to U.S. foreign policy, was divisive in the labor movement even after the eleven progressive unions were purged from the CIO in 1949.

Anti-Communist sentiment found its way into various district organizations of the UPWA. For example, in 1950, one of the ten UPWA districts passed a resolution barring Communists from office in the union. This prompted Vice President Frank Ellis, a former organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World, to declare that “No labor union ever was destroyed by an employer. Unions break only when they quarrel among themselves “(Packinghouse Worker, April 21, 1950).

A more typical resolution was passed by the progressive Chicago-based District One convention. It said: “We reject red-baiting and witch-hunting. We reaffirm our belief that the sole judge and worth of any union member shall be his contribution to the advancement and the interest of the packinghouse workers.” The resolution also opposed those forces which favored “a shooting war,” and urged “active measures for peace,” including United States-Soviet negotiations on resolving the arms race. The connection between foreign policy and labor issues was proposed. “We packinghouse workers have felt the effects of the Cold War policy in terms of heavy layoffs, of speed-up and the piling up of grievances and of sharp attacks on the very existence of our union” (Packinghouse Worker, April, 1950).

At the 1950 UPWA national convention President Ralph Helstein spoke against barring Communists from office. However, guest speaker CIO President Philip Murray attacked the recently ousted eleven unions as “Communist-dominated” and spoke of the “Communist bloc” within the CIO “who continued to vote for Russia, for Communism-against their own unions and their own country. To hell with them” he declared (Packinghouse Worker, June 10, 1950).

Subsequently, after the onset of the Korean War in late June, 1950 Murray wired President Truman declaring: “The CIO stands solidly behind your effort to halt this act of Communist aggression and to restore peace in Asia (Packinghouse Worker, July 14, 1950). In his Labor Day speech in September, Murray warned that workers were being challenged by the threat of world war. “The threat comes from the masters of Communist world strategy. They have already shown their tactics and their objectives in Korea. We support our government’s efforts to halt the vicious aggression provoked by the Communists in Korea”(Packinghouse Worker, September, 1950).

Despite Murray and his supporters in the CIO, the UPWA left-center coalition of the 1940s held together. A theme running throughout statements of left-center forces in the union was that anti-Communism, anti-labor legislation, and a militaristic foreign policy were all connected. Lyle Cooper, UPWA economist, warned that war is being used to create prosperity for the rich. He said that the “biggest danger in all of this is that the powers that be become afraid of peace. Since war orders become the foundation for this phony prosperity, a war psychology must be maintained and spread as wide as possible among our people” (Packinghouse Worker, November, 1950).

Strong opposition to U.S. foreign policy was expressed by resolutions and statements from several UPWA district organizations. One district declared that the Korean War was being used as a “smokescreen” for reactionary attacks on workers’ living standards. District One, which included the Chicago meat packing plants proclaimed that “The Taft-Hartley and McCarran laws have been crammed down the throat of labor and the promises of civil rights and fair employment have been thrown into the waste basket.” They condemned the use of worldwide military forces that were protecting markets and profits overseas. “… it has become increasingly obvious that the war in Korea is being used by giant U.S. corporations as an excuse for piling up billions in profits at the expense of the farmers and working people of our country and their sons who are fighting.” (Packinghouse Worker, May 12, 1951 and July 13, 1951).

All of these expressions of opposition to U.S. foreign policy and domestic repression stimulated two analytical statements from the international union leadership. The first, a front page Packinghouse Worker commentary, was titled “We Shall Speak Up Now!” The article discussed the growing military power over civilian government and that government and military power increasingly served the interests of big business. All of these forces planned for more war and to divide and weaken the labor movement. Fear was used to attack schools, unions, churches, and other institutions. The commentary referred metaphorically to “germ warfare,” a spreading disease that induces massive subservience to the wishes of the military and war profiteers. In response to this milieu of fear and repression, the commentary claimed, unions must speak out (Packinghouse Worker, March, 1953).

The second document was a four-page statement entitled “The Road Ahead,” inserted in the April 1953 issue of the Packinghouse Worker. At the outset it asserted that the drift of the United States and the world toward war and oppression required discussion and a dedication to social change. Particularly “…unless there is a very quick and drastic change in the thinking and action of the labor movement, history will record that in the showdown, labor failed miserably in the performance of the historically progressive function which is properly assigned to organizations of working people.” The document lists such problems as the danger of nuclear war, the Korean War, high taxes for the war machine, and repression of dissent. Big business, it contended, had pursued profits at home and overseas unconcerned by these problems while labor remained silent.

The document discussed the “dictatorship of fear” which had resulted from repression and witch-hunting. Labor, it was argued, must speak out and act to defend liberty from the attacks of those who would stifle dissent. “The Road Ahead” therefore involved freedom, world peace, and prosperity, suggesting that the war-peace issues and the freedom and prosperity issues were interconnected in a fundamental way (Packinghouse Worker, April, 1953). Consequently, the UPWA leadership decided that the labor movement had to extend its horizons beyond collective bargaining; that successes on bread-and-butter issues, better working conditions, and economic security depended on a foreign policy of peace and anti-colonialism.

Class Struggle, Peace, and Justice

Sometimes stories such as that of the UPWA in the 1940s and 1950s capture our attention because they are interesting or inspiring. Also, sometimes these stories provide insights that still bear relevance to political struggles today.

In the case of the UPWA, its effectiveness as a workers’ organization was affected by its willingness to resist the power of big capital. This effectiveness was hindered by the Cold War foreign policy of the 1940s to the 1960s, competition between it and other unions, the mass mobilization of cultural and educational institutions to promote the fear of Communism, state repression, and efforts to incite racism among the membership of the union.

In the face of exploitation, repression, anti-Communism, and racism the union staked out an independent politics in the depths of the Cold War. Central to this politics were two principles: first, that the humanity of all workers is determined by their common struggles and solidarity; and second that the character of the foreign policy of the United States is intimately connected to the well-being of the working class.


(This essay was taken from Harry Targ, “Foreign Policy and Class Struggle in the United Packinghouse Workers of America: 1945-1953,” Nature, Society and Thought, Vol.4, no.1/2 1991).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

CONNECTING THE DOTS: THEORY AND HISTORY

Harry Targ

The Bewildering Array of Crises

The magnitude and variety of crises that people face seem at times overwhelming. Our experiences of the world, mostly vicarious, are shaped by 24/7 news, facebook and twitter messages, stories on the internet about endless climatic and social catastrophes, and images of angry people everywhere.

Progressives who claim to be “political” and who engage in political activity as a vocation or avocation gravitate toward one or another issue or crisis as the latest event demands. We, like those around us who are less active, seem to be reacting to an increasingly befuddling world.

To respond to this political and psychic environment, we need to develop a worldview that includes a theoretical orientation. This orientation must include an explanation of what exists and why, and how the past has become the present and could become a better future. This worldview must show how the various seemingly diverse, incoherent, and random behaviors, events, and structures are in fact connected. Before we can make sense of the world we need to understand it, figure out how it relates to institutions, behavioral dynamics, and practical political activity. In short, we need to “connect the dots.”

These thoughts come to me from time to time, usually as a result of a bewildering array of crises that increasingly impinge on my television and computer screen. Today the crises include the devastating ecological disaster created by corporate oil; the outrageous assault of Israeli troops on a flotilla of ships bringing material aid to the people of Gaza, the expanding U.S. war in Afghanistan, economic disasters from Greece to urban America, and patterns of electoral and polling data about upcoming prospects for elections in the United States and elsewhere.

Fidel Castro’s Historical Vision

On June 3, 2010 I read an essay by Fidel Castro, “The Empire and the War” (http://www.cuba.cu/gobierno/reflexiones/2010/ing/f010610i.html) which reminded me of how important it was for my psychic well-being and my political activism to “connect the dots.”

Castro opened by referring to the crisis on the Korean peninsula, China’s behavior in the United Nations, and United States conflict with Iran.

He then referred to President Obama’s famous speech on United States/Muslim relations at the Islamic University of Al-Azhar in Cairo on June 4, 2009.

Castro approvingly referred to aspects of Obama’s speech including the latter’s recognition that colonialism had denied “rights and opportunities” to many Muslims and how Muslims during the Cold War were “often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.”

Castro declared that it was significant that Obama was an African American who spoke in words that “resonated like the self-evident truths contained in the Declaration of Philadelphia of July 4, 1776.”

Obama then, Castro said, admitted that the United States “played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.” Obama seemed to be aware that the Iranian hostility to the United States ever since, particularly after the Shah of Iran was ousted from power in January, 1979, was intimately connected to the CIA operations against Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. According to Castro this hostility spread throughout the Middle East as the U.S. gravitated toward uncompromising support for Israel and its brutal policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Castro recalled that Mossadegh was overthrown because his parliament had voted to nationalize Iran’s vital natural resource, its oil, in 1951. Most significantly the target of this effort by the Iranians to gain control of the oil under their ground was the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the corporation which had controlled this vital fluid of the industrial revolution since the dawn of the twentieth century. Today, that corporation is called British Petroleum or BP.

For me, Fidel Castro’s essay, in a few paragraphs, “connected the dots” in a variety of ways. For example, by referring to President Obama’s speech in Cairo, Castro was acknowledging that the President was purposefully addressing the peoples of the Global South and that Obama recognized that the United States was connected to colonialism and imperialism. Castro was suggesting that Obama’s analysis was largely correct and that the President had carefully selected his words because he knew the audience that heard them agreed with the analysis. Obama’s words, Castro suggested, reflected what the President understands to be true and what words were needed diplomatically to mollify a skeptical audience.

Also, Castro was using Obama’s words to articulate the view that the Global South had been historically marginalized and that many peoples, in this case Muslims, had been used as props and victims of the Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union.

Castro, again using Obama’s analysis as a segue, drew connections between imperialism, control of oil, the overthrow of Mossadegh, the intimate ties between the United States and Israel, the sixty year brutality of Israeli regimes against the Palestinian people, the catastrophic environmental disaster caused by the stepchildren of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company , BP, in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla, bringing material aid to victims of the global system in Gaza.

In other words, Castro was suggesting to us connections between words, consciousness, and deeds; the past and the present; politics, economics, and war; policy toward Israel, Palestine, Iran; international relations, political economy, and the environment; and imperialism, resistance, and the peace movement.