Accountability for Assad’s Murder of Marie Colvin: A Precedent for Justice?

By Javier SethnessColvin RIP

Originally published on Notes Toward an International Libertarian Eco-Socialism

On Thursday, January 31, a U.S. judge found the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad responsible for the targeted assassination of U.S. journalist Marie Colvin in Homs in 2012. A reporter for The Sunday Times, Colvin had been covering the regime’s besiegement of the Baba Amr district of Homs, whose population had rebelled against Assad’s rule as part of the Revolution which had begun in the southern city of Der’aa in March 2011. Though evacuated with other internationals and journalists within days of her arrival as a precautionary measure in light of a threatened regime offensive, Colvin returned with the French photojournalist Rémi Ochlik and British photographer Paul Conroy to the improvised community media center from where they had been reporting. As Conroy describes, he, Colvin, and Ochlik believed that, by reporting on the regime’s besiegement of Baba Amr, they could affect world opinion and bring relief to civilians under fire.  It was from Baba Amr that Colvin courageously went live on CNN, the BBC, ITN News, and Channel 4 News, on February 21, 2012, to belie the Assad regime’s fabrications that its assault on the district was exclusively targeting so-called “terrorists.” It was for this reason that the regime killed her, the very next morning after the broadcast. They triangulated her location via her cell signal due to Colvin’s bravery in broadcasting the devastating truth to the world, murdering her and Ochlik in a targeted artillery strike. As judge Amy Jackson observes in her ruling, Colvin was “specifically targeted because of her profession, for the purpose of silencing those reporting on the growing opposition movement in the country.”

Colvin’s remarkable story is told in two recent films: Under the Wire and A Private War. I will not here be discussing Under the Wire, which is brilliantly reviewed by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad in the New York Review of Books here. Instead, I will offer some comments about A Private War, a 2018 dramatization of Colvin’s life, directed by Matthew Heineman and written by Marie Brenner and Arash Amel.

Though Colvin covered armed conflicts for three decades, in A Private War, we follow her in her later assignments to war zones in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It is amidst covering Sri Lanka’s civil war that Colvin suffers a disfiguring injury, leading her to wear a distinctive eye-patch over her left orbit. While there is little sense in the film that Colvin had an anti-imperialist critique of U.S. participation in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the film depicts her dynamic and increasingly humanist approach to journalism, culminating in her martyrdom in Homs in February 2012. During the Libya segment, which takes place shortly after the outbreak of protests against Mua’mmar al-Qaddafi, we see Colvin outright interviewing the autocrat. Though Colvin never had the chance to question Assad—she was no Vanessa Beeley, a neo-fascist propagandist, but rather the Syrian despot’s direct victim—we get the sense that the writers and director are here channeling Assad’s specter through Colvin’s interaction with Qaddafi, given their similarities, from political authoritarianism to inter-personal repulsiveness and sexism, and their common opportunistic use of nationalist, ‘socialist,’ and ‘anti-imperialist’ rhetoric to legitimize their crimes. It follows logically that both Qaddafi and Assad would present essentially all opposition to their rule as “al-Qaeda” and/or “terrorists,” as they have.

Continue reading “Accountability for Assad’s Murder of Marie Colvin: A Precedent for Justice?”

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Burn the Plantations: The 2018 National Prison Strike

by Zachary Medeiros, Socialist Party Los Angeles

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The plantations are stirring again. From August 21, the 47th anniversary of revolutionary George Jackson’s murder at the hands of prison guards, to September 9, the 47th anniversary of the Attica Uprising, incarcerated people across the United States have joined a nationwide prison revolt. As I write this, there are reports of work stoppages, hunger strikes, and other actions coming out of Washington, Florida, Georgia, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, and even Nova Scotia. Given the immense level of repression organizers and all other uncooperative prisoners and detainees face, these reports probably represent only a fraction of the resistance.

The strikers are answering a call put out in April by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak and other prisoner’s groups, which was sparked by the deadly riot at South Carolina’s Lee Correctional Institution. The strike demands, which cover a wide range of human rights issues, are worth reproducing here in full:

Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.

An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.

The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.

The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.

An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.

An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.

No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.

State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.

Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.

The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.

Continue reading “Burn the Plantations: The 2018 National Prison Strike”

War, Imperialism, and Class Polarization on a Global Scale: From East Asia to the Middle East and from South Africa to Europe

by Kevin B. Anderson, International Marxist-Humanist Organization

Earth

Adapted from a presentation to the Chicago Convention of the International Marxist-Humanist Organization, July 13, 2018.

Today’s Nuclear World, Capital, and the State

In January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved their famous “Doomsday Clock” on the danger of nuclear holocaust to “two minutes to midnight–the closest the Clock has ever been to Doomsday, and as close as it was in 1953, at the height of the Cold War.”  This resulted, they wrote, primarily from Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” against North Korea and his vow to upend the Iran nuclear pact, and also from North Korea’s continuing weapons tests and “Russia’s deployment of a new ground-launched cruise missile” (“It is 2 minutes to midnight: 2018 Doomsday Clock Statement,” Jan. 25, 2018). Even after tensions eased with North Korea, the administration continued plans for an estimated $2 trillion buildup of US nuclear weapons. While some of this began under Obama, according to arms control expert Lawrence Wittner, Trump’s escalation includes plans for “low-yield” nukes that the military could use under a new “nuclear posture” that “lowers the official threshold for use of U.S. nuclear weapons,” allowing the military to “employ them in response to non-nuclear attacks upon civilians and infrastructure, including cyberattacks” (“Trump’s Getting Us Ready to Fight a Nuclear War,” History News Network 6/18/18). Related to this is a massive buildup of US naval forces in what the Pentagon is suddenly calling the “Indo-Pacific,” and which is clearly aimed China as a rising power (see “Tomgram: Michael Klare, Is a War with China on the Horizon? TomDispatch 6/19/18)

This brought to mind the sixtieth anniversary of Raya Dunayevskaya’s Marxism and Freedom, first published in 1958 during the most fraught days of the Cold War, when threats of nuclear annihilation filled the discourse and Marxism had to be reconceptualized for our time as Marxist-Humanism. One of the book’s greatest achievements was its development of the theory of totalitarian state-capitalism for the nuclear age, in terms of the Hegelian absolute, of life “in an age of absolutes, on the threshold of absolute freedom out of the struggle against absolute tyranny” (p. 24).  Nothing signified the absolute development of the contradictions of capitalism more than nuclear weapons, which threatened, then as now, to wipe humanity off the face of the earth at the same time that new, humanist liberation movements were developing everywhere, from civil rights, to African liberation, to the peace movement itself.

Just as the Great Recession a decade ago bared the danger of outright systemic collapse after decades of complacency about the underlying stability of the capitalist system, Trump’s wild nuclear threats last fall laid bare the fact that we are still in the nuclear age, wherein a single leader can order mass destruction far beyond anything even Hitler carried out.

Since those wild threats of last year, Trump has held his photo op with Kim Jong-un, but who besides his apologists believes that peace is at hand on the Korean peninsula and in the region?  At the same time, the Trump administration continues to move closer toward war with Iran, continues to support Saudi Arabia’s murderous war on Yemen, while accelerating its war at home against immigrants by forcibly separating thousands of children from their parents in a policy reminiscent of slavery or the Nazi concentration camps.

Continue reading “War, Imperialism, and Class Polarization on a Global Scale: From East Asia to the Middle East and from South Africa to Europe”

Call to Action, 6/9: Abolish and Prosecute ICE! Support All Immigrants and Refugees!

(Courtesy Encyclopedia Britannica and It’s Going Down)

Monthly Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ) Demonstration
Saturday morning, June 9, 10:00am-12:00pm

Suggested slogans:
Melt ICE!
ICE OUT!
No Borders!
Support Immigrants and Refugees Everywhere!
Immigrant Rights Is a Women’s Issue!
Immigrant Rights Is a Labor Issue!
US Hypocrisy: Bomb Assad but Don’t Admit Refugees!
Smash racism! Smash white supremacy and capitalism!
Against War and Imperialism Everywhere!

MEET 10 AM at Junipero Serra Park next to Union Station, downtown LA
Rally then march over to nearby ICE headquarters

Sponsor:
Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ) https://cprsj.wordpress.com/

Conveners of CPRSJ:
Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation-Los Angeles
Colectiva Contra Autoridad
International Marxist-Humanist Organization, West Coast Chapter
Socialist Party, Los Angeles Local
Members of Solidarity: A Socialist, Feminist, Anti-Racist Organization, Los Angeles Bran

Co-Sponsors of this demonstration (list in formation):

 

KPFK’s “Indy Media on Air” Brings Fascism to the Airwaves

by Javier Sethness

Antifa banner
Courtesy North London Antifascists

The red-brown convergence, or the seemingly puzzling political alliance between far-left (red) and far-right (brown), is a serious and worsening problem around the world—evermore so since Donald Trump’s election and inauguration. Beyond the divisions between authoritarian and libertarian socialism on the left, both authoritarian and anti-authoritarian socialist traditions share with fascism an emphasis on revolutionism, or the need to transform society radically, rather than incrementally. In practice, this has meant that Italian Fascism grew out of the Cercle Proudhon, an intellectual circle dedicated to the study of this French anarchist; that the Strasserite faction of the Nazi Party had an (admittedly racist) anti-capitalist orientation; and that the Russian neo-fascist and Vladimir Putin adviser Aleksandr Dugin has developed a “fourth political theory” which combines Stalinism with Nazism.1

While this axis has important implications for social life across the globe, the red-brown convergence is seen mostly clearly in Syria and in the discursive struggle over the Syrian Civil War. Since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution in March 2011, an estimated half-million Syrians have been killed, including 200,000 civilians. Syria’s Assad Regime, Putin’s Russia, and the Islamic Republic of Iran have been found to be responsible for killing 94% of these civilians. Moreover, in a new analysis of cyber warfare in the Syrian Revolution, an anonymous observer identifies three main stands adopted by those confronted with the events in Syria: the pro-Assad, anti-U.S.-imperialism stance; the silent stance; and the stance in solidarity. It is unfortunate to consider that, rather than provide coverage in solidarity with Syrian dissidents across borders, Pacifica Radio/KPFK 90.7 Los Angeles gave a platform to fascism on March 21st and 28th of this year on the radio show “Indy Media on Air.” (Link available here.) While the program description states the show’s mission as being the “creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth,” readers of this commentary will judge for themselves whether its pro-Assad orientation can be viewed in any way as radical, accurate, or truthful.

Continue reading “KPFK’s “Indy Media on Air” Brings Fascism to the Airwaves”

Reportback from 3/28 Sidewalk Rally to Protest Racist Assassination of Socialist Feminist Marielle Franco

Two weeks to the day after her brazen assassination, members and friends of the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice gathered near the Brazilian Consulate in Los Angeles to protest the murder of socialist activist and councilwoman Marielle Franco, apparently by government agents in Rio de Janeiro.

Our slogans emphasized Marielle’s legacy as as a fighter for Black people, women, LGBTQIA folks, and poor and working-class communities in Brazil, accountability for her killers, and an end to police murder and fascism in Brazil and the US, among other issues. We handed out scores of fliers to pedestrians and drivers, and received a largely positive response from the public, especially from bus drivers and other working-class people.

The CPRSJ will continue to stand with and for all the Marielle Francos of the world, and in solidarity with the democratic struggles of all oppressed people. If you share this goal, get in touch with us.

Marielle presente!

Sidewalk Rally, March 28th: Protest the Racist Assassination of Socialist Feminist Marielle Franco in Brazil!

marielle-franco
“Survival is our best form of resistance.”

Wednesday, March 28, 5-7PM
outside Brazilian Consulate
8484 Wilshire Blvd (corner La Cienega)
Beverly Hills

Sponsored by the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice
https://cprsj.wordpress.com/

Socialist activist and immensely popular Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman Marielle Franco was an unapologetically Black, lesbian, and feminist champion of Brazil’s favelas and oppressed. On March 14, only days after exposing another police atrocity in the favelas, she and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were brutally murdered by gunmen using police-issued ammunition. We call this rally to honor her legacy and to call for justice. We stand with the tens of thousands in Brazil and around the world condemning this latest crime in the long war against Black people, women, LGBTQIA folks, and the working classes.

Suggested slogans:
Stop the Genocide of Black People in Brazil
Who killed Marielle Franco?
Marielle Franco Presente e Marielle Vive! (Marielle Franco is Present and Marielle Lives!)
Black, Queer, Woman, Socialist: Murdered because she was all.
#SayHerName
For Marielle, I say no! I say no to military intervention!
Down with Brazilian fascism! Down with police gangsters!
Justice for Marielle! Justice for the favelas!

More information:
https://www.blackrosefed.org/marielle-franco-presente/
https://www.blackrosefed.org/brazil-farj-interview-marielle/
https://www.imhojournal.org/articles/black-feminist-marielle-francos-assassination-reveals-the-banality-of-death-in-brazil/