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New Ground 89

July - August, 2003

Contents


Congress on Strike!

By Bob Roman

Hundreds of labor union activists and supporters rallied with striking Congress Hotel workers on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 2nd. At its peak, the picket line in front of the hotel in downtown Chicago required traffic control to keep it legal, though in contrast to demonstrations (including labor union rallies) earlier this year, the police were notable mostly by a merely token presence. For some photos of the action, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/conhotel.html.

The occasion for the picket line was the first distribution by the union of strike benefit checks since the strike began in mid-June. Strikers who participate on the picket line for at least 25 hours a week receive $200 a week, half from the International and half from the Local 1 strike fund. Chicago DSA has contributed $500 and the postcard mailing we did advising of the demonstration seems to have generated at least that much.

On Saturday morning, July 12, Local 1 organized another mass rally, this time drawing from religious, activist and immigrant communities.

This is an important strike. Last September, Local 1, in negotiating with an association of Chicago area hotels, won a major increase in wages and benefits for hotel employees in Chicago. It didn't bring these employees up to the standard of other major metropolitan areas, but it narrowed the gap spectacularly. It was also a great example of how a union in an apparently relatively disadvantaged position vis-a-vis the bosses can use community and political pressure to balance the equation.

But not all union hotels in the Chicago area participated in these negotiations. Among these, the Congress Hotel was the delinquent, initially demanding a major pay cut, cuts in benefits, and the right to "outsource" jobs to what are essentially temp agencies. This is the model much of the non-union manufacturing sector in the United States has pursued. It's possible to find factories wherein the only actual employees of the company are a few managers. Everyone else works for little money, no benefits, and totally at the whim of the management.

It appears that the Congress Hotel may very well have wanted a strike. Certainly it made little effort to actually come to an agreement with Local 1. Over five months after the contract expired, the hotel declared an impasse and imposing wage and benefit cuts. A month later, the 130 unionized employees voted 113 to 1 to strike, whereupon the Congress Hotel began implementing its vision of utopia. According to press reports, there have been no negotiations between the Congress Hotel and HERE Local 1 since the beginning of the strike.

If the Congress Hotel wins this fight, it will not automatically mean the end of unions in hotels, in Chicago or nationally. The Congress Hotel has been a "marginal property" for some years now; there are quality of service issues; the union can always sell employee competence to some degree, just as the building trades have. But it would seriously compromise Local 1's ability to win much at the next round of contract negotiations. Worse, the "hospitality industry" keeps a close eye on itself, and this model could spread to other non-union operations. Not only would this further impoverish an already poor workforce, but "temp" agencies have been notoriously difficult to organize (not that there aren't some impressive efforts ongoing, such as the Day Labor Organizing Project in Chicago), adding an additional barrier to organizing in that industry.

At this point in time, the Congress Hotel is no better than a cancer cell and it must be stopped from spreading. Local 1 needs to win this fight or the Congress Hotel needs to be put out of business. It's a measure of just how pissed many of its striking employees are that they would be happy with either.

 

You Can Help!

If you'd like to help fight Congress, you can do three things.

1) the Local 1 picket line operates 24/7 at the hotel at Congress and Michigan in downtown Chicago; join it when you can.

2) contribute to the strike fund with a check made out to HERE Local 1 Strike Fund with "Congress Strike" in the memo line and mailed to

HERE Local 1
55 W. Van Buren 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60605.

3) boycott the Congress Hotel and spread the word.

 


YDS National Convention 2003

by Peter Frase

Fighting still underway in Iraq and Afghanistan; domestic attacks on affirmative action, reproductive choice, and economic equality ongoing; a pivotal national election coming into view on the horizon. With this backdrop, the Young Democratic Socialists convened in Louisville, Kentucky on June 12-15 for our annual conference. YDS members came from all over, including representatives of chapters in Chicago, Virginia, Phoenix, and Dallas. It was a conference focused on change, rebuilding, and hope for the future of our campaigns and projects.

Our hosts were the Louisville chapter of YDS, a dynamic group of youth and students who have gone beyond YDS's traditional campus niche to integrate their work with the larger progressive community in Louisville. This experience informed the choice of speakers and workshop presenters, who gave out-of-town YDSers a glimpse of the broad-based and analytically sophisticated politics of the city.

The conference began with an address from Anne Braden, a towering figure of the southern Civil Rights movement who continues to be a presence on the Louisville political stage through her work with such groups as the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Braden's commitment to principled work against all forms of oppression was echoed in several talks over the course of the weekend by members of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, a remarkable organization which fights for the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Fairness does not conceive of the struggle for LGBT rights narrowly. As they state in their principles, "we believe that it is impossible to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in a world that is racist, sexist, and classist". Fairness inspired YDS members as they described winning political victories, including a recent state executive order banning discrimination against state employees on the basis of sexual preference or gender identity, without compromising a politics which challenges both the homophobia of some of Fairness's allies and the gender, race, and class privilege of some of its base.

In addition to these and other fascinating discussions, there was business to attend to at the conference. The conference adopted new political positions and an Activist Agenda that will frame our activist work in the coming year. A resolution was passed regarding the ongoing US occupation of Iraq; it affirms YDS's support for Iraqi sovereignty and calls on activists to continue holding the Bush administration accountable for the deceptions it foisted on the American public in the course of selling its war. YDS also passed a resolution emphasizing the importance of working to unseat Bush in the 2004 election, and the conference affirmed its support of DSA's recent statement on the elections.

It was the Activist Agenda, however, which was perhaps the single most important product of the conference. Without a plan of action, after all, statements and resolutions are useless. The 2003-4 Activist Agenda outlines five broad priorities for allocating national resources and the time of the national organizer. Working to defeat Bush and supporting ongoing local projects are two key priorities. Another is the march for reproductive freedom called for April 25, 2004 in Washington, DC to fight back against the Bush administration's attacks on a woman's right to choose. At the initiative of former YDS co-chair Fabricio Rodriguez, YDS decided to support the UNITE! union's campaign in support of laundry workers at the Cintas corporation. Finally, YDS committed resources to an innovative new initiative, the Guerilla Sex Education Project, which will use accessible and witty propaganda to take the message of safe and healthy sexuality to youth in schools which do not provide a curricula that is supportive of the full range of human sexuality. (All of the official documents passed at the conference are available at http://www.ydsusa.org/.)

This year's conference marked the transition to a new national youth organizer for YDS. After two years of hard work, Eliyanna Kaiser has stepped down in order to return to school and pursue other political projects, though she remains active as a rank-and-file member of YDS. Replacing her is Lucas Shapiro, who had been an activist with the YDS chapter at Ithaca College. Lucas brings with him a long and varied experience with progressive campaigns ranging from living wage organizing to the anti-war movement to the World Social Forum, which he recently attended in Brazil. Commenting on the challenges ahead for YDS, Lucas said:

"The coming months will be critical if we are to turn this county around. While organizing for the short term goal of 'regime change at home' we must reaffirm our commitment to building a democratic Left, rooted in communities, workplaces and campuses, that can affect long term progressive social change."

On a less upbeat note, this year's conference was smaller than others in recent years. YDS is still struggling to build up its strength and find its place in a dynamic and changing youth movement. The new YDS Co-ordinating Committee which was elected at the conference has a lot of hard work ahead of it. But the energy and the political engagement of the attendees in Louisville bodes well for the future of YDS.

 


Small But Beautiful

By Bob Roman

The Midwest Regional DSA Conference was considerably smaller than the originally envisioned, and rather more focused on DSA. Held at the International House on the University of Chicago campus during the July 12 weekend, no more than a few dozen people attended. Yet this provided an intimate, interactive environment in which everyone could participate. Better still, while not all Midwestern DSA chapters were represented, there was a good mix of people from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, as well as many of the usual suspects from Chicago. Nor were all the participants DSA members; about a quarter were non-members with varying degrees of familiarity with DSA.

In this intimate setting, it would probably mischaracterize Congressman Danny Davis' presentation as a keynote address. It was that, yet it was also a political sermon. Billed as "Finding a Winning Politics in 2004", he actually provided a quiet, thoughtful monologue on a theme of faith, hope and charity, with an emphasis on the first two (faith being as much a commitment to values as to any theology), illustrated by brief parables and a colloquial marxism. Anyone hoping for the insider political technician speech typical of many DSA gatherings would have been disappointed. But Representative Davis' talk was very much an affirmation of progressive politics and activism, and the audience was very much refreshed by it.

Each of the conference sessions started with a presentation followed by a question and answer and discussion period. It was here that the relatively small size of the conference really made a difference, allowing for participation by the most reticent of the attendees.

With Joe Persky, Ron Baiman, Mel Rothenberg and David Schweickart discussing the "New Global Economy", one might have once again expected a heavily academic, technical discussion of politics. And indeed, the panelists offered a cogent discussion of the current state of affairs. But again, the program exceeded expectations by going beyond the usual diagnosis of systemic injustice to a discussion of democratic socialism, workplace democracy and other related topics. This was a panel that was both informative and stimulating.

Dr. David Green from Detroit DSA presided over a discussion of the Living Wage Campaigns that, in Detroit, have been instigated by DSA. They've won Living Wage Ordinances in five governments since beginning the project, including some that include a differential designed to encourage vendors and contractors with the particular government to offer their employees health insurance.

It turns out that all of the DSA locals with members at the conference had participated in Living Wage campaigns. There was an extended discussion of the Detroit and Chicago experiences. (See New Ground 66, 60, 54, 49, 48 and 44.)

Past Chicago DSA Political Education Director Kim Jones did indeed provide a survey of 2004 Democratic Presidential politics in Iowa, but his intent was more to stimulate a discussion of the role of Presidential campaigns in organization building, both specifically DSA and the broader left. He was rewarded with an extended discussion that was interesting in that there was little discussion of the Green Party and little faith in any of the Democratic candidates though many had their preferences. It seemed to me that the overall feeling was that Presidential campaigns were too important to be ignored but not very useful in organizing.

Lucinda Scharbach, from HERE Local 1, gave a brief presentation on the Immigrant Workers Freedom Bus Ride. This is a national tour, with routes starting at various major metropolitan areas around the country, all coming together in Washington, DC, with stops in various cities and towns along the way. From DC, the convoy will proceed to rallies in New Jersey and New York. Chicago will be the starting point for one of the routes in late September. Even at this early date, the Chicago convoy is up to nine buses.

Styled after the Freedom Bus Rides that desegregated public transportation in the South, this event is intended to lobby for legislation that, at minimum, will include:

1) a new Amnesty Program for undocumented tax paying workers in the U.S.,

2) better family unification laws,

3) improving the right of undocumented workers to organize (e.g., repeal the Hoffman decision).

It's very much a coalition effort, and under the umbrella of these three demands, coalition members are formulating their own demands. DSA is part of the sponsoring coalition nationally.

Kathy Quinn of Greater Philadelphia DSA chaired a discussion of "Building DSA". It was actually a discussion of "best practices", intended to encourage conference attendees to share "what works".

The last session of the conference was a meeting of DSA's new International Commission. DSA is a member of the Socialist International. Traditionally, relations with the International and with other member parties has been handled by a committee of DSA's National Political Committee. The new Commission includes non-NPC members and fulfills the same role.

 


The Peace Movement Is Not Demoralized!

By Harold Taggart

If failure to stop the invasion of Iraq demoralized the peace movement, it wasn't visible at United for Peace and Justice's (UFPJ) first national conference held in Rosemont, Illinois. June 6-8. In fact, empowerment seemed to be the dominant feeling. Organizers anticipated around 200 participants. Over 550 people from 38 states and 325 organizations attended. There were at least two foreign guests from Japan and New Zealand. Coalition members ranged from Nebraskans for Peace and Black Voices for Peace to Peace Action, Democratic Socialists of America, Global Exchange, American Friends Service Committee and U.S. Labor Against the War.

An air of confidence permeated the grand ballroom of the Holiday Inn in the Chicago suburb. Banners circled the Hall with "The World Says not to War" inscribed in 12 languages. Speaker after speaker exuded optimism. The largest worldwide anti-war action in history took place on February 15, 2003. Between 15 and 30 million people around the world participated. George Bush, who seems incapable of grasping reality, dismissed it as no more significant than a focus group. The speakers preferred to take the message from the New York Times, which labeled the peace movement the world's other super power.

United for Peace and Justice is the super coalition in the U.S. It claims a membership of more than 500 U.S. organizations. The primary purpose of the Chicago conference was to establish a formal structure for the organization that was founded in October, 2002, and had been operating under an interim administration. UFPJ also used the occasion to define and prioritize its objectives.

Enthusiasm abounded among the delegates in part because Pretend President George Bush's easy conquest of a nearly defenseless Iraq is looking more and more like a Pyrrhic victory. The legal justification given for the war now seems to have been contrived. The predictions of grateful Iraqis filling the streets and pouring out their love for George Bush failed to materialize. Instead, American and British troops were met with skepticism at best and bullets and grenades at worst.

The peace movement was right. Bush was wrong. The head of the head-of-state in the United Kingdom could roll. If it does, it could bounce the head of George Bush like an eight ball driven into a side pocket by the cue ball. The United Kingdom is more democratic, has a freer press and a less indoctrinated citizenry. Thus the fall of Tony Blair could be a prologue to the fall of George Bush.

Other foreign leaders who collaborated with Bush against the wishes of their citizens such as Jose Maria Aznar of Spain and John Howard of Australia are frantically scampering to cover up the embarrassment of their misguided and undemocratic complicity with the illicit schemes of the Bush Administration.

United for Peace and Justice helped create the discomfort being felt by the members of Bush's coalition of the willing. UFPJ was formed to provide a single voice for the anti-war coalitions and other peace groups. Groups like Global Exchange, Peace Action and American Friends Service Committee played prominent roles in the formation and development UFPJ. UFPJ both cooperates and competes with A.N.S.W.E.R (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) the other major umbrella group whose brilliant organizing and determination in the face of adversity were crucial to the success of the movement.

UFPJ is more like a shotgun blast than a single bullet to the heart of the vampire. It makes a lot of noise and expends a blast of buckshot, but has no long-range cure for the problem. That is not necessarily a fault. The problem is far more massive and powerful than its nemesis. Like judo, it will be necessary to use the strengths of the opponent to subdue it.

The most glaring rift was between those who viewed the electoral defeat of the Pretend President and his agenda as the preeminent goal and those who see the opportunity to administer the nudge that could collapse the dysfunctional system. On the first day of the conference, the voices of those advocating any deal with the devil to oust Bush seemed to be the loudest. By Sunday, the din of those decrying Democratic Party betrayals dominated.

With each revelation of lies and misjudgments, the Bush base is undermined a little more. Numerous misfortunes that are more difficult to link to Bush also plague his Administration. There was the U.S. spy plane downed in China. A U.S. submarine providing carnival rides for Bush campaign contributors rammed and sank a Japanese vessel. A space shuttle crashed killing all aboard. Then there are the questionable misfortunes: September 11th tragedies; gyrating stock markets; rising unemployment; rising debt; rising deficits. Is Washington occupied by the most incompetent administration in U.S. history or is our Pretend President George the jinx? Or both?

Collapsing system advocates see the Democrats as "Republicans lite" who are just as beholden to the corporations and plutocrat ogres that controls the Republicans. They see the Democrats as those who have betrayed ordinary people far too often. The Democrats failure to speak up and challenge the irregularities of the 2000 election is unforgivable as is their willingness to be duped into Bush's foreign adventures especially the criminal invasion of Iraq.

The UFPJ convention organizers worked miracles considering that their movement child had ballooned into an oversized monster. Kinkos could not meet the voracious demand for copies of documents. Five hundred people needed information about the Structure Proposals, Strategic Framework, Statement of Unity, 87 action proposals and administrative instructions such as agenda, procedures and financial reports.

Jonathan Schell, writing in the June 23rd issue of The Nation, discussed the Conference. In an article titled "Thinking Movement, Working Demonstration" written before the Conference was held, Schell reported that a goal of the Conference was to combine the justice movement that has been around for ages with the peace movement that grew up around the Iraq issue. He quoted Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange, a major figure behind the Conference, and who was prominent in organizing the anti-WTO demonstrations in Seattle in 1999, saying she wants the global peace movement to come to Middle America.

That explains the choice of venues. It also highlights the failure of the Midwest to rally protests comparable to those on the coasts.

Unity Statement

Membership in UFPJ is conditioned on an organizations agreement with the Statement of Unity. The Conference approved a proposal to broaden the mission of UFPJ from an anti-war movement to a force against the U.S. governments policy of permanent warfare and empire-building and to confront the ramifications of those policies at home and abroad capitalizing on the momentum of the anti-war successes.

The first paragraph of the Unity Statement is:

"We, the members of United for Peace and Justice, stand opposed to the pre-emptive wars of aggression waged by the Bush administration; we reject its drive to expand U.S. control over other nations and strip us of our rights at home under the cover of fighting terrorism and spreading democracy; we say NO to its use of war and racism to concentrate power in the hands of the few, at home and abroad."

The statement goes on to call for public spending to meet human and environmental needs. It maintains that the Bush Administration sold the war on Iraq with bald-faced lies and half-truths. Yet the corporate media and nearly all of the Democratic Party refused to challenge them. Iraq was the new leading edge of a relentless drive for U.S. empire, which uses free trade policies to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a few by attacking labor and environmental protections, reducing governments control over their country's economics, and slashing public services.

Structure and Strategic Framework of the UFPJ

UFPJ is a New York-based organization. The conference was closed. Press coverage was not encouraged and was off limits for all deliberations. On June 6, the Chicago Tribune ran a short article about the gathering.

UFPJ invited national organizations to send up to two delegates and local organizations to send one delegate each. The highest governing body is the National Assembly. It will convene at least every 18 months.

The conference approved a structure, a strategic framework and a unity statement. The structure consists of a steering committee of 35 members, 40% of which will be from national organizations. To ensure diversity, the composition will be 50% female, 50% people of color, 20% youth and students under 25 and 20% from alternative sex groups. The student and alternative sex goals were not met exposing a glaring deficiency in the membership composition. The Steering Committee is mandated to meet at least monthly. Usually this will be done by conference call.

The Steering Committee will select an Administrative Committee of 12 members, 2/3 of whom will be Steering Committee members. It meets bi-weekly or as necessary.

Eighty-seven action proposals were submitted from which the organization derived its strategic emphasis. Break out groups ranked the proposals. Then the Conference voted on all those rated number one for the final ranking. The top seven proposals were:

  1. Defense of Civil Liberties and Immigration Rights: Campaign to Fight Patriot Acts I & II;
  2. Campaign to Unite the Peace and Global Justice Movement;
  3. Peoples Convention/The World Says No to Bush (to be held sometime during the Democratic Convention in Boston in July, 2004, to the Republican Convention in New York City in August, 2004);
  4. Justice for Palestine;
  5. Nuclear Disarmament/Redefining Security;
  6. Military Recruitment;
  7. Broad Educational Program.

There were another ten top priority issues. In order of priority, they were: Baghdad Occupation Watch; peace zones; poor peoples march; mobilization against occupation; weapons of mass destruction; Iran /Korea; war profiteering; Korean unification; national peace Web site; corporation boycotts.

 


In What May We Hope?

By David Schweickart

The philosopher Immanuel Kant proposed three questions as constitutive of the philosophical enterprise: What can we know? How should we act? In what may we hope? As a philosopher long interested in economic issues, let me offer some thoughts on these questions as they apply to our contemporary economic situation: What do we know? In what may we hope? What should we do? That is to say, I want to talk briefly about the big picture: about capitalism and about socialism.

We call ourselves "democratic socialists," but we don't say much about the socialist part anymore. This is understandable. It's one of the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago. It's a paradoxical consequence, in a sense, since DSA had never been enamored of the Soviet Union and had always taken pains to dissociate itself from their kind of "socialism." However, the existence of such self-styled socialist regimes meant that socialism had to be taken seriously by everyone. For better or for worse, capitalism was not the only game in town. Now, I'm afraid, a great many on the Left suspect that it is. Many of us have come to believe that there is no viable alternative to capitalism and so our project is to humanize the beast, not transform it into something qualitatively different. That is to say, we are social democrats, not democratic socialists.

I'm not among "the many" on this issue. Don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to social democracy. If we could establish here, and in much of the rest of the world, what Robert Heilbroner likes to call "a slightly imaginary Sweden," humanity would be vastly better off than it is today. The trouble is, we are not going get "a slightly imaginary Sweden" unless we aim for something more than that.

We should remember that social democracy came into being precisely because the ruling classes of the major capitalist countries feared something far worse. Capitalism itself was under attack and was vulnerable. Major concessions had to be made to keep working people from switching their allegiance to that dreaded antithesis of capitalism, Godless Communism. These concessions had two important consequences. They greatly improved the lives of large numbers of ordinary people and they stabilized the system, to the point that the threat of another Great Depression faded from view.

However, as we know, the social democratic project ran into serious economic difficulties from the mid-70s on, and has been subject to a furious, and largely successful capitalist counterattack, the famous "neoliberal" offensive, which has succeeded in presenting itself as the only rational alternative in the new "Fast World" of high-tech, corporate globalization.

I want to go on record as asserting, in the strongest possible terms, that the pernicious premise that there is no alternative to capitalism is false. I think it crucial the progressives understand this. If we don't, we are fighting with one hand tied behind our back.

It particularly important to understand this now, for there's a big story out there that is only beginning to be told: namely, the neoliberal project itself is in serious trouble. The communist project may be down for the count, and social democracy is on the ropes, but so too is neoliberalism. It remains hegemonic, but it has run out of energy. Policy makers still push for privatization, deregulation, labor-market "flexibility," unrestrained capital mobility and free trade, but fewer and fewer people believe that these things will make the world a better place in which to live: a more secure, more egalitarian, more prosperous place. (Which is one of the reasons the Bushies are so eager to keep the war-on-terrorism pot bubbling: to keep people's minds off emptiness of their economic nostrums.)

The fact is, neoliberalism (like social democracy and communism) has been tried, and it has failed. We need something different. We need something new.

Let me be very clear: there is an alternative to capitalism, one that would eliminate or at least mitigate capitalism's most serious flaws. We can begin to grasp the contours of this alternative if we can get clear about the structural deficiencies of the present order, the deficiencies that give rise to our current order of savage inequality, scandalous poverty locally and globally, unemployment coexisting with overwork, economic instability and the relentless assault on our natural environmental.

First let me say what the root causes of these phenomena are not. As socialists, we need to rethink a number of our treasured preconceptions. The problem is:

The fundamental problem resides in two enormous democratic deficits:

This does not mean that hierarchies should be abolished or differential economic incentives. Nor does it mean that competition should be abolished. Democratic enterprises should compete with other democratic enterprises. This keeps them efficient and innovative. They must be structured internally to allow for individual and group incentives for effective performance: seniority and merit raises, adequate managerial autonomy. But ultimate authority should rest with the workforce: one person / one vote. Managers must be ultimately accountable to their workers, not to absentee stockholders.

It's a striking fact of enormous importance the democratic workplaces work: better, in general than authoritarian alternatives. That's what a large empirical literature strongly suggests. What is true in politics is also true in economics: democracy works, not perfectly by any means, but better than non-democratic alternatives: production is efficient, commitment to the enterprise is stronger, workers tend to be more diligent, since each person's income is directly tied to the success of the company, employment is more secure.

As it turns out, the real problem with capitalism is not the extravagant consumption of our extravagantly rich, but the allocation of that portion of the social surplus not consumed. That is to say, the allocation of investment. This allocation determines the future of our economy: which regions will grow and which will wither, which sectors will thrive and which will be starved, how much of the social surplus will be reinvested at home and how much will go abroad in search of more lucrative opportunities there.

Now, as a matter of fact, it is exceedingly difficult to control the allocation of investment funds when those funds are private. How can a government tell a person where to invest his/her money? By what right can a government prohibit a person from investing abroad, if he/she so desires? And even if a government should assert such rights, how could it ever enforce them effectively?

It follows that an effective democratization of capital entails breaking the connection between private savings and investment. We should not rely on private savings for investment. These funds should be publicly, not privately generated.

There's a simple way to do this that fits nicely with workplace democracy. Simply impose a capital assets tax on each democratic enterprise: a flat rate tax that can be regarded as a "corporate property tax," or, alternatively, as a "leasing fee" that each enterprise pays to the state for the capital under its control.

All of these revenues should be reinvested in the economy. Since they are public funds, they should be allocated via public banks, using criteria in addition to (but not other than) profitability considerations. They should, for example, be allocated regions the way public goods are allocated (usually on a per capita basis), thus allowing for harmonious regional development. They should also be targeted to employment creation: venture capital to people wanting to start up new businesses or to existing enterprises willing to expand production by taking on new workers.

Note: Although we want the "commanding heights" of the new economy democratized, we should allow for a capitalist sector of small businesses and even larger ones, so long as the owners are actively engaged in the enterprise. As socialists we are not hostile to small businesses, nor to entrepreneurial capitalists in general. What we want is more democracy in those areas where it is most appropriate: more democratic control over conditions of work and more democratic control over capital allocation

What we want, in short, is Economic Democracy, the natural successor to Social Democracy, which was itself the successor to the long and difficult struggle for Political Democracy. Think of this sequence: Political Democracy -> Social Democracy -> Economic Democracy. In each case the successor is a development from the former, not an alternative to the former. In each case the hard-fought gains of the past are incorporated into a new and better system.

One of the strengths of neoliberalism as a ideology is that it offered both a comprehensive vision, and a reform agenda. Proponents imagine an ideal world of perfectly competitive markets, the invisible hand regulating everything, then they push for the reforms that move the economy in that direction: privatization, deregulation, lowering of barriers to trade and capital, etc. Like neoliberalism, Economic Democracy also offers a comprehensive vision, and a (revolutionary) reform agenda.

The vision can be summed up in our slogans: democratize labor; democratize capital. We imagine a world wherein all enterprises are democratically run, and all investment funds publicly generated and democratically allocated. We are willing to tolerate, even endorse, a modification of this ideal to allow for capitalist sector suitably disciplined, just as neoliberals are willing to tolerate, even endorse, certain forms of social security, poverty alleviation, environmental regulation and the like, so long as they don't threaten the overarching vision.

Our ideal suggests a reform agenda, aimed at moving us in the direction of Economic Demcracy. Among these reforms would be demands for:

Employee representation on corporate boards, and worker councils within corporations.

Let me add two others not as obviously connected to our slogans, but in fact related and important:

I don't think capitalism is compatible with full employment, since full employment undercuts capital's fundamental disciplinary stick, but various liberal economists disagree. In any event, full employment is important to a democratic, labor-empowered economy. We should push for that reform.

Economic Democracy embraces fair competition at home, but it blocks unhealthy competition. In particular, regions don't have to compete for capital, thus tempting them to keep environmental restrictions low and wages "flexible." Similarly, Economic Democracy is happy to endorse free trade among countries with comparable labor costs and environmental regulations. But it wants to block race-to-the-bottom wage competition and environmental (de)regulation. The basic idea is to impose tariffs on goods from poor countries so as to bring the price of an import up to what it would be if workers in the exporting country were paid wages reflective of their productivity and the industries subject to environmental regulations comparable to our own. Then (this is the socialist part of socialist protectionism) these tariffs would be rebated to the exporting country. In effect, poor countries could export less, but would receive higher prices for their exports. Thus they could devote more of their resources to the needs of their own populace, and fewer to satisfying rich country consumers.

Okay, I've said enough: a fifteen minute synopsis of quite a few years of thinking and research.

 

Editor's Note: David Schweickart is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago, and the author of several books, most notably Against Capitalism and more recently After Capitalism. This article was presented at the Midwest DSA Conference this July in Chicago.

 


Immigrants Lose Representation in Mexican Congress

By Jorge Mújica

As the popular saying goes, "crime doesn't pay", and apparently neither does party politics for Mexican migrants in the United States.

Vote counting in Mexican mid-term elections is over, and migrants lost the only seat they held in the past three years. The first Mexican migrant in the House of Representatives was Eddy Varón, resident of Los Angeles, California, but there will be none in the next legislature.

Mexicans living abroad are not allowed to vote despite a constitutional amendment dating from 1996. The Constitution states that Mexicans, even those abroad, have the right to vote "according to the election code", but said code has never mentioned the rules for those abroad to cast ballots. As some politician explained last year, "it's too complicated and maybe the United States would not allow Mexicans voting".

So Mexican migrants lobbied since last year to have their parties to include migrants in their listing and wage a campaign from abroad so the families in Mexico would know that such candidates existed (See New Ground 88, 85 and 84.) The only party to respond to such petition was the Democratic Revolution Party, placing 5 such candidates in their lists.

But as the votes were counted, PRD members in the United States felt cheated. All of their candidates were placed in low positions, and none got elected. Mexico elects 500 congressmen or "Diputados", 300 of them in electoral districts and 200 at large, divided in five regions, and they get elected according to the percentage of votes obtained by each party.

Despite a big success in México City and the states of Zacatecas and Michoacán, both three governed by the PRD, the regional percentages were insufficient for the migrant candidates. The PRD won the 5 electoral districts in Zacatecas and 3 at-large seats, but Manuel de la Cruz, the migrant candidate for the region, was placed in the fourth place in the list. Similarly, the PRD won 36 out of 40 districts in México City plus 13 at-large seats, but José Medina, immigration activist from Los Angeles was placed in the 16th place.

 

Math in the New Congress

The big winner in Mexican election was the Institutional Revolutionary Party, the infamous PRI, which held the presidency of the country during 71 years. Altogether, the PRI won 224 Diputados, 12 more than in the previous election. Vicente Fox's National Action Party was the big loser. It lost over 70 seats, for a final count of 153. The PRD increased its Diputados in about 50%, ending up with 95. The rest of the seats went to two smaller parties, the "greens" and National Convergence. The Labor Party obtained barely enough votes to maintain its legal status and win six Diputado. Oddly enough, one PT's candidate victory meant that the PRD lost the fourth Diputado at-large in Zacatecas, migrant Manuel de la Cruz.

As usual, a simple majority in Congress is enough to approve or change any law, and no party will have this majority. To legislate, all parties will have to seek alliances. Both the PRD and the PRI consider themselves "the opposition", as the PAN is still in the presidency. The PRI will try to undermine it to regain the presidential seat in the year 2006. Thus, it is likely that the PRD and the PRI will make such an alliance.

The PAN and the PRD make only 248 votes, not enough to approve any law. Besides the unlikeness of such an alliance, both would have to seek a third party to get something done. That will be, if any, the role of the smaller parties, which only have 28 Diputados altogether.

Besides losing the battle for at-large participation in Congress, for Mexican migrants seeking the right to cast ballots from abroad in the year 2006, math is even more complicated. Any Constitutional Amendment needs a majority of two thirds in the legislature. Even a voting block by the PRI and the PRD does not get qualified majority. The Green Party would have to get in the block to win such Amendment.

In 1999, when Congress discussed the right to vote from abroad, the PAN and the PRD were at the forefront of this battle. Together, they won a Constitutional Amendment in the Lower House, only to lose it in the Senate, against the PRI's majority. The 2000 election was at the door and the presidential seat was at stake. The PRI lost it even without the migrant's vote.

Once in the opposition, since the year 2000, the PRI put itself at the forefront of the battle for migrant's rights, in an alliance with the PRD, but their voting block did not make a qualified majority. The PAN turned against migrants, and blocked all proposals for voting from abroad.

Starting in September, the new House of Representatives would face two basic proposals for migrant's vote: the Sixth Regional Electoral District, calling for 40 migrant Diputados and 10 migrant Senators, to be elected in the year 2006, along with the right to cast ballots in the presidential election, and a proposal for a staged-voting right: to vote for president in 2006, for Diputados in 2006, and for president, Diputados and Senators in 2012.

 

Term Limits!

PRI and PRD are likely to agree with either proposal. That is, if the new Diputados even get to know about these proposals. México does not allow reelection in Congress, so for Mexican migrants in the U.S. may take well over a year to explain to 500 new Diputados what they had already explained to the old 500 Diputados. And they will have to do it without a Migrant Diputado.

 

Editor's Note: Jorge Mújica is Political Action Secretary of the PRD in Illinois. For information on the PRD and other Mexican political parties in the U.S., call the PRD office in Chicago: 312.563.0015.

 


C.C.C.L.R. Forum on Security & Civil Liberties

By Tom Broderick

The Chicagoland Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (CCCLR) is an umbrella organization that was established in April, 2003. The group's focus is to respond to the continuous encroachment on our civil liberties since the attacks on September 11, 2001. The initial member organizations are the Illinois Civil Liberties Union, the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights, the Clarence Darrow Commission for First Amendment Freedoms of the Unitarian-Universalist Council, the Loyola University Campus Greens Organization, the Muslim Civil Rights Center, and the National Lawyers Guild Chicago Chapter. Since then, many organizations, including the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (see New Ground 88), have joined the effort to ensure our basic rights as citizens or residents of this country. Everyone residing in the United States is considered to be under the protection of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The CCCLR helped draft a City Council resolution calling for the repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Homeland Security Act, and related executive orders, as well as to halt passage of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act (Patriot Act 2). On July 9th, the resolution, sponsored by Alderman Joe Moore, (49th), Alderman Helen Shiller (46th), Alderman Freddrenna Lyle (6th) and Alderman Ricardo Munoz (22nd) was introduced in the Chicago City Council. Over half of the members of the Chicago City Council were signatories. If the City Council passes it, Chicago would be the largest city to pass such a resolution. Chicago would join three states and over 125 cities and towns that have passed resolutions calling for the repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act.

The Chicago City Council could vote on this resolution as early as September. If you live in Chicago, you should insist that your Alderman take a position in support of liberty and vote for the resolution. Given that as I write this, the power at City Hall (the Mayor) has not indicated his position on the resolution, it is even more important that your Alderman hear support for the resolution from their voter base. It is unfortunate, but the view of the Mayor will determine the action of a large portion of the City Council. Even those signing on to the resolution cannot be considered as votes in favor when the time comes to take a stand.

Another focus of the CCCLR is to increase public awareness of the damage being done to us all by the erasure of our civil liberties at the hands of the federal administration of the former Governor of Texas.

In conjunction with the Columbia College Faculty and Staff Against the War, the CCCLR held a public forum at Columbia College on July 10th. It was entitled Will Giving Up Our CIVIL LIBERTIES Make Us More Secure?" and was very well attended. Although the African-American and Hispanic communities were noticeably absent, one African-American who was setting up the microphones for the forum said "When it comes to stuff like this [the take-away of our civil rights], you're all Black."

The panelists were Harvey Grossman, Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union, Illinois, Thomas Kneir, Special Agent in Charge, Chicago Division, FBI and Kate Martin, Director, Center for National Security Studies (a Washington DC group). The moderator was Shirley Jahad, of WBEZ radio, who did an excellent job working with the panelists and the audience.

The opening remarks were given by Dr. Seema Imam, Vice President of the Muslim Civil Rights Center. Dr. Imam asked us to reflect on history and understand that the USA PATRIOT Act is a threat to the liberty of all of the people in America, as it allows the criminalizing of dissent. She reminded the audience that in America, we have the right to be a participant, we don't have to sit by and condone injustice, we can work to safeguard our basic freedoms. Referring to the rapid passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, Dr. Imam said we should not pass laws without debate and we must not accept laws that differentiate between the civil and human rights of citizens and non-citizens.

Harvey Grossman was the first panelist to speak, and he put the USA PATRIOT Act in an historical frame. He began with the Alien and Sedition Acts restricting aliens and curtailing the press, passed in 1798, during a time of potential war. Then, came the Palmer Act that targeted political radicals, suspected dissidents, left wing organizations and, again, aliens. On January 2, 1920, under the Palmer Act, thousands of people were rounded up and many of these were "detained", for long periods, without charges being filed. Emma Goldman was deported under the Palmer Act. From more recent times, Mr. Grossman mentioned the internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War 2, the McCarthy period, COINTLPRO and finally, the government infiltration of the Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) during the Reagan era.

Mr. Grossman then discussed the ramifications of the USA PATRIOT Act, and the need for an open and accountable government. Spying on innocent people does not work. Creating suspects through profiling based on racial or religious or ethnic history will not work. This profiling will create an impossibly huge catch, and will drive a wedge between America and the targeted community. This will result in less cooperation between large segments of the population and the government.

Other goals of the USA PATRIOT Act, according to Mr. Grossman, are designed to strip the court of the right to review legal actions made by the Executive branch. The Act will allow the government the right to no notice searches, the right to snoop on any public meetings, and the right to secret incarcerations and secret trials. As someone active in the movement to abolish the death penalty, I feel the need to mention that over 100 people have been freed from death row since the re-introduction of the death penalty in 1976. Their arrests and trials are a matter of public record. In some cases, official misconduct led to convictions and execution sentences. The ability to review the public records of these cases led to just releases. Secret arrests and secret trials will only enhance the security of a Security State.

Special Agent Thomas Kneir spoke next. Much of what he said was as predictable as was Harvey Grossman's take on the issue. Agent Kneir started by defining terrorism as a criminal act and that is how the FBI looks approaches it. A directive from the FBI Director stated "Do not let any terrorism lead go uncovered."

"The issue," Agent Kneir said "is what is the right amount of enforcement." He likened their labor to the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. Something is too much, something is too little and something is just right. The job of the FBI is to find and operate in the "just right" area. To do that, Agent Kneir said the FBI tries to be approachable, to make their activities more palatable in all communities. Judging from the audience response to this line, the FBI hasn't made much headway in finding the "just right" enforcement mode.

Still, Special Agent Kneir said a couple of things that gave me pause. It may well be that there are careerists inside the administration who feel things are amiss. Early in his presentation, he said "the private sector is looking better and better." He commented on his many years in the Bureau, and said it may well be time to retire. However, the true head shaker came when Agent Kneir said "it is a good thing that there are groups, such as the ACLU, monitoring the government." This caused fellow panelist Kate Martin to blurt out, "I think you may indeed be looking to retire."

Following Special Agent Kneir was Kate Martin, who had come from Washington, D.C. to take part in the panel. Ms. Martin told us that we need to "take national securities issues seriously, but recognize that the Bill of Rights is what makes us special. Sacrificing civil liberties does not make you necessarily safer." She went on to discuss the round up of massive numbers of individuals after 9/11. This was the first time in modern American history that such a large number (over 800 was the figure used by Ms. Martin) of people were secretly arrested. The arrests appeared to be based on the suspected racial and ethnic background of the individuals who were rounded up.

Once in custody, the detainees were held incommunicado, often in complete isolation. To make locating them as difficult as possible, their names were not listed in Bureau of Prison records. A U.S. court has since stated that the names of those secretly arrested must be released. Many of those arrested, have been released and/or deported. According to Ms. Martin, the Departments of Justice and Immigration acted lawlessly, violating our immigration statutes. The government still refuses to list the names of those still secretly detained. Ms. Martin ended her presentation calling for a "commitment from the Justice Department and the FBI to make no more secret arrests," stating that "locking up 1,000 or 5,000 innocent people will not make us safe."

Following the panel discussion was a brief period of questions from the audience and answers from the panelists. The majority of questions were directed to Special Agent Kneir and many of these were about the lack of trust people have in the FBI and the government. Mr. Grossman called the problem systemic, pointing out that the USA PATRIOT Act allows the Justice Department and the FBI to operate in secrecy and without judicial oversight. "The USA PATRIOT Act is an injury to our process. These new initiatives target communities and groups, not individuals."

Closing the forum was Sam Ozaki of the Japanese American Citizen's League. Mr. Ozaki had been held in one our internment camps during the second world war, and the first thing he thought of on September 11 was "here we go again." He was thinking of the obvious (to him) round up Muslims and Arabs that would occur. He wondered if a forum like the one we were holding would have happened in 1942. He felt it was not likely, and called for towns and villages and cities to speak out and get the USA PATRIOT Act repealed.

 

Editor's Note: The complete text of the proposed ordinance, introduced on July 9, 2003, can be found at http://www.bordc.org/Chicago-res.htm. Information about other similar efforts around the country can be found at http://www.bordc.org.

 


Terrorism from the Sky: the Destruction of Nagasaki

by Peter N. Kirstein, Ph.D.

Sky full of fire, pain pourin' down - Bob Dylan1

The last time an atomic weapon was used in combat was the incineration of Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945. Most of the world's attention, however, has concentrated upon the first B-29 Enola Gay mission that rained nuclear death over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. During the fiftieth anniversary of the atomic attacks in 1995, a flurry of press coverage and specials emphasized the Hiroshima, "Little Boy" bombing. Both print and electronic media explored the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II, but virtually ignored its most recent application, when Nagasaki's civilian population was decimated. While the Hiroshima nuclear attack represented the first use of a weapon of mass destruction, the atomic slaughter is the tale of two cities destroyed for reasons other than military necessity. In part, it was driven by the terrorist policy of unconditional surrender, that prolonged the carnage and deterred the Axis Powers from seeking an armistice on terms that might conclude the conflict. As the debate over the nuclearization of World War II continues to rage almost sixty years later, one should remember that the indiscriminate slaughter from America's weapons of mass destruction, were visited upon two non-white civilian populations for revenge, a thirst for mass murder and atomic diplomacy.

Inside the world's oldest and largest avionics museum, the United States Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, is displayed the perfectly-restored Bokscar, the frequently ignored B-29 Superfortress that released over Nagasaki the plutonium, "Fat Man" bomb. Its commander was Major Charles Sweeney. Although the propeller-engine bomber bore the eponymous reference to Captain Frederick C. Bock, he switched aircraft prior to takeoff from Tinian in the Mariana Islands.2

President Harry S. Truman, through a White House-issued press release, announced the Hiroshima bombing on August 6. He finally gave an atomic warning to Japan, with a minatory promise that America would continue its nuclear attack in a manner, heretofore, unachievable through air power: the destruction of an entire people and nation:

We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications... If they do not accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.3

Truman's threatening of the pastoralization of Japan, which was not dissimilar to the Morgenthau Plan for Germany, did not occur, but additional butchery and destruction were unleashed. As the pace of the scientific and technological revolution had already accelerated beyond humankind's capacity to control and harness it, three days later, Nagasaki became Truman's next victim of a "rain of ruin."

Kokura had been chosen as the primary target since it would be easier to demolish than Nagasaki. The latter was a less accessible countervalue target because the bomb's impact "would be wasted outside the built up areas." Target selection anticipated a diminution of Nagasaki's damage due to surrounding hills of the relatively intact city, a port on the west coast of the southern island of Kyushu.4 Kokura's residents were spared annihilation, however, because of cloud cover and the strict rules of engagement that required, in addition to radar, actual visual sighting of the target before discharge of the gravity bomb. Prior to abandoning its primary, Bokscar unsuccessfully attempted three bombing runs over cloudy Kokura. As the B-29 propeller-driven aircraft was running out of fuel, Sweeney and Commander Fred L. Ashworth, the weaponeer, raced to Nagasaki for one last desperate bombing attempt, before heading to Okinawa for an unscheduled emergency landing. Tinian was beyond return at this point. Nagasaki weather temporarily cleared to permit "Fat Man's" journey of death, and with two engines sputtering halfway down the runway, Bokscar landed at Okinawa.5 It was the first B-29 to appear on the island, and after refueling and concealing their atomic mission, the crew promptly returned their aircraft to Tinian.6

In the hours preceding the United States bombing of the city, there were several alerts of an impending air attack. A general alert had sounded at 7:48 a.m., with an air raid alert lasting from 7:50 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. While Nagasaki remained on general warning, there was no repetition of an air raid signal until 11:09 a.m., seven minutes after the bomb exploded in airburst fashion over the city. The weapon did not impact the Earth's surface, and was designed to implode in the atmosphere for purposes of maximizing its destructive-blast radius. Unfortunately, only 400 Japanese were in tunnel shelters which, had they been fully occupied, could have protected 30% of Nagasaki's population.

At 11:02 a.m., an atomic bomb exploded in the sky over Nagasaki. It completely eradicated one-third of the city with its unique sequence of blast, heat, shock wave and prompt and delayed radiation. The fission weapon killed initially at least 35,000 people, and an additional 35,000 perished from radiation sickness and other post-attack atomic injuries. "Fat Man" contained a core of Plutonium 239, weighed 4.5 tons, was eleven feet long and had a yield of twenty-one kilotons, equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT. Some of America's current strategic-terrorist weapons dwarf the Nagasaki plutonium bomb, such as the W88 warhead inside the Mk-5 reentry vehicle, that is deployed on Trident D5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles. It contains a destructive yield of 475 kilotons.7

The fireball, a ghastly but hauntingly mesmerizing force, reached a zenith of 656 feet in one second. Shadows of bodies were burnt into the walls of the Nagasaki Fortress Command, which was 2.2 miles from the hypocenter, the area directly under a nuclear explosion. Humans that were approximate to the hypocenter were nearly carbonized.

The Mitsubishi Steel Works factory was reduced to rubble and schools full of children crumbled and collapsed.8 At Shiroyama Primary School, 131 out of 151 children were killed as the three-story concrete building collapsed around them. The catastrophe was repeated at Chinzei Middle School where only fifteen children survived out of a student population of 118. The force of the Bokscar bomb also ended the lives of 414 medical students whom were attending Nagasaki Medical University, a school founded by Franciscan missionaries. Of the seventy Nagasaki physicians in private practice, twenty died and twenty more were critically injured, leaving only thirty of them to provide medical treatment to a stunned, atomic-ravaged population.

Nagasaki had been visited by St. Francis Xavier in 1549, and was the most Christian of Japanese cities with 10% of its population being Catholic. It contained the largest Catholic cathedral in East Asia; during the atomic attack, its roof crumbled killing dozens of parishioners that were about to give confession. Of Nagasaki's prebomb population of 22,000 Christians, most of whom were Catholic, only 13,000 survived the A-bomb.9

In this second senseless nuclear holocaust, Americans also perished from a weapon allegedly intended to "save lives." Brigadier General Thomas F. Farrell was at Trinity in New Mexico when the first nuclear device, "The Gadget," was tested on July 16, 1945, and at Tinian. He was a powerful, yet still relatively obscure, military figure who played a significant role in the atomic bombings at the end of World War II. Serving as chief deputy to General Leslie R. Groves, the director of the Manhattan Project, Farrell exulted, in an extensive eyewitness summary of the bombings, how "all concerned should feel a deep satisfaction in the success of the operation."10

Farrell was also one of the first Americans to reach Nagasaki for bomb damage assessment (BDA) of the nuclear carnage. American BDA provided scant reference to "friendly" nuclear fire. Farrell states laconically, "there was a prisoner of war camp in Nagasaki and that some few [American] prisoners were made casualties by our bombing." While it had been previously reported that American POW were in Kokura, the Target Committee that developed the nuclear targeting plan rejected any consideration to sparing American lives that could give Japan a "prisoner's veto." While not knowing in advance that POW were in Nagasaki, nuclear targets were chosen regardless of the known or suspected presence of American military personnel.11

Initial American reports of the nuclear terrorism came from spotter aircraft that accompanied Bokscar. Their crews reported a city covered with smoke, and engulfed in a conflagration of twenty immense fires that emanated from the Mitsubishi Steel Works that was close to the hypocenter. Large explosions were frequent and visible for miles.12 Unlike American damage-assessment surveys that emphasized the destruction of buildings, infrastructure and raw numbers of dead and wounded, Japanese studies of the carnage included humanistic accounts of the impact of the atomic bomb on ordinary citizens, far removed from the counsels of war.

Dr. Masoa Shiotauki was a physician at the Omura Naval Hospital near Nagasaki when the explosion occurred on atomic Thursday. He described a "bright sunny day," during a dry spell of a Japanese summer, that would tragically facilitate the required visual sighting of the intended target. Then he witnessed a bright flash followed by a "thunderous roar." Subsequent to this initial, weapons effect of a nuclear explosion, was blast pressure that converted Dr. Shiotauki's hospital into a killing field where glass was transformed into deadly shards hurtling throughout the facility.

The physician rushed outside to an air raid shelter and saw "a large white cloud in the shape of an opened umbrella with a pink (or light orange) shadow." His city was destroyed "beyond description" in which every building was damaged or destroyed. Looking at the mountains surrounding the city, he noted later how the leaves had been scorched up to eight kilometers from the hypocenter. Although the date was August 31, Shiotauki noted how "it looked as though autumn had come."13

Shiotauki, however, soon returned to Omura Naval Hospital where he witnessed the medical consequences of nuclear war: Too many patients and too few surviving physicians to triage in an environment of mass casualties and symptoms unknown to Japanese medicine. Within hours of the explosion of "Fat Man," 600 Japanese were brought to Omura. Shiotauki stated starkly the condition of the hibakusha the atomic survivors:

The appearance of the patients...was horrifying. Their hair was burned, their clothes torn to pieces and stained by blood, and the naked parts were all burned and inflamed. Their wounds were contaminated by filth. Many among them had numerous pieces of glass and wood projecting from the skin of the face and back. Many were in such a state that they were with difficulty recognized as human beings.14

While most historians and political scientists confine their analysis of the decision to use the atomic bomb to geostrategic themes of motivation, strategy and nuclear proliferation, the A-bomb's impact on the Japanese population is usually peripheral to their core analyses. Nations that defend their war crimes, and liberal analysts who assess causes and rationale, frequently remain within the narrow international relations and national-security confines of realism and neorealism. Even the most significant historical-revisionist studies of the A-bomb seldom depict its impact on the hibakusha. Survivors or journalists dominate that terrain.15

Seventy-one patients had been transported by train on August 9, and received preliminary treatment at Zatsumura Elementary School in Omura. Then they were moved by truck on August 10, when they were finally hospitalized at Omura Naval Hospital. Fuyoko Araki was a forty-one year old "housewife," who was only 750 meters from the explosion. She received flash burns on her face, and contusions and abrasions on her lower extremities. On the morning of August 13, Araki suddenly lost her eyesight, and a spinal puncture produced "dark red blood." She died the next day on August 14.16 Hatsuko Ikei was a seventeen-year old female. She was about 1150 meters from the explosion and was severely burned. Her appetite was suppressed; her eyesight was deteriorating and she suffered brain damage. Ikei developed petechia: purple spots on her body that were as large as a thumb. She died at 4:30 p.m. on August 15, 1945. In Ward 12 at Omura Naval Hospital, a Japanese patient, Chizuko Yamada, was treated for abrasions on her chest, left arm and hip. Her medical condition degenerated into herpes, epilation (hair loss), fever and petechia. She died eleven days after the nuclear explosion. A young fourteen-year-old male student, Todachi Kusumoto, was a patient in Ward 6, and at the time of the "Fat Man" attack, was only one kilometer from the hypocenter. Initially, Kusumoto had no external signs of injury; there were no burns or wounds but he carried a fever and experienced total scalp-hair loss. Typical of radiation disease, hair loss is pronounced, and exacerbated even if touched by a wet hand. His body was covered with petechiae, and then he exhibited cardiac arrhythmia symptoms. Kusumoto became one of Nagasaki's 70,000 nuclear-noncombatant casualties on August 25, from what was probably radiation disease.17

One cannot effectively assess the decision to incorporate atomic weaponry into the campaign of strategic bombing without confronting Truman's decision to use a second A-bomb, the last significant military event of the war. Unleashed in combat only three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, it allowed insufficient time to determine Japan's response to this crushing new reality of American-military power. According to Barton J. Bernstein, the emperor was preparing to end this horrible war, and had decided to seek peace prior to the Nagasaki carnage.18 Furthermore, Washington had neither anticipated nor expected an immediate Japanese response after the initial-atomic blast of August 6, 1945.

Was the decision to bomb Nagasaki based on reasons other than attempting to bring the four-year Pacific War to an end? It should be recalled, almost sixty years after the pivotal, but hotly-disputed Yalta Conference (February 4-11, 1945), that a pre-nuclear United States had prevailed upon the former Soviet Union to enter the war against Japan. Stalin, who did not want to fight a two-front war, agreed at the Crimean conference to initiate hostilities against Japan within three months after the defeat of Hitler. On August 8, exactly ninety days after V-E Day, Russia declared war on Japan, and launched cross-border military operations to liberate Manchuria from the oppressive occupation of a million-person Japanese army. The next day Nagasaki was bombed.

Possessing an atomic monopoly and a belief in its invulnerability, the U.S. abruptly abandoned its pursuit of Russian assistance in the war against Japan. This was the beginning of the containment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. With the proto-Cold War unfolding, the spectre of a joint Soviet-American occupation in Japan was unacceptable to hegemonic Washington. Given the unnecessary use of the A-bomb to defeat Japan, the weapon might forestall or limit a Soviet-Japanese war that could confer a postwar-Soviet sphere-of-influence in northern China and Japan.19

Avoiding a climactic invasion of Japan's home islands, with its projected casualties of thousands of Americans and Japanese, was not a legitimate excuse for using the A-bomb. A preliminary invasion, called "Operation Olympic," would not commence until November 1, 1945 on the island of Kyushu, and the full-scale landings on the Tokyo Plain ("Operation Coronet") were not planned before March 1, 1946, almost seven months after the Nagasaki bombing. Clearly other military or diplomatic options were available that could have obviated the nuclear-strategic bombing of civilian, noncombatant targets.20

Had the United States been willing to modify, even slightly, the policy of unconditional surrender, and allowed Japan before, and not after the atomic bombings to retain its emperor, an atomic attack on a now-reluctant belligerent may have been averted. Certainly, a preattack atomic warning, a demonstration on an unpopulated area such as Tokyo Bay or elsewhere (as Edward Teller has retrospectively advocated), the continuation of the naval blockade and conventional bombing, were options that might have concluded the Pacific War without the introduction of weapons of mass destruction into combat.21

As the controversy continues over the justification for Truman's epochal decision to incorporate nuclear weapons as a component of strategic bombing, the atomic memory of Nagasaki must be preserved.22 The last nuclear battlefield, perpetrated by a terrorist democracy that has long proclaimed itself as the ethical and moral model for the world, must not be driven from our history and its chroniclers censored or suspended into silence.23 During World War II, the United States committed war crimes that were equivalent to those of Nazi Germany and Japan. While public awareness of the war's tragic legacy appropriately recalls the deaths in concentration camps, the Rape of Nanking and the wehrmacht's ravaging of Soviet Russia, Nagasaki's destruction must also endure as a symbol of senseless inhumanity. Coming to terms with America's use of nuclear weapons, and its ruthless pursuit of victory over an Asian race, which it dehumanized and despised,24 requires that we never forget the tragic and haunting history of Nagasaki.

 

Editor's Note: Dr. Peter Kirstein is Professor of History at St. Xavier University in Chicago.

Notes

1 Bob Dylan, "Mississippi," Love and Theft, 2001. The album was released on September 11, 2001.

2 Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (New York: Touchstone, 1986), 739.

3 Statement by the President of the United States, August 6. 1945; roll 6, file 74, Harrison-Bundy Files Relating to the Development of the Atomic Bomb, 1942-1946, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, Record Group 77, National Archives-Great Lakes Region (Chicago, Illinois). (Hereafter referred to as H-B Files). It was delivered at 10:45 a.m., Washington time, August 6, 1945. The president was at sea on the U.S.S Augusta returning from the Potsdam conference.

4 Thomas F. Farrell, "Report on Overseas OperationsAtomic Bomb," September 27, 1945, 2; roll 13, Manhattan Engineer District History, Records of the Defense Nuclear Agency, RG 374, NA-Great Lakes Region (Chicago, Illinois). [Hereafter referred to as Manhattan Files].

5 "Nagasaki Plane Landing on Two Engines," ND and no author; roll 8, H-B Files; Ibid., 5.

6 The Beverly Review (Chicago), August 16, 1995, 10.

7 Robert Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "Nuclear Notebook," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May-June 2003, 74-5.

8 Peter N. Kirstein, "Will Fat Man be the Last?" Op-Ed, Chicago Tribune, August 9, 1984.

9 New York Times, August 9, 1995.

10 Farrell, "Report," 6.

11 Ibid., 2.

12 Memorandum, 20th Air Force, Guam to War Dept. Headquarters, US Army Strategic Air Forces, Guam, August 9, 1945, roll 1, H-B Files.

13 Masoa Shiotauki, "The Effects of the Explosion of the Atomic Bomb on the Human Body," September 10, 1945, 1, Appendix 2, Preliminary Report of Findings of Atomic Bomb Investigating Groups at Hiroshima and Nagasaki; roll 14, Manhattan Files.

14 Ibid., 2.

15 Hideko Tamura Snider, One Sunny Day (Chicago: Open Court, 1996); John Hersey, Hiroshima (New York: Vintage, 1989); Michihiko Hachiya, Hiroshima Diary (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995).

16 Shiotauki, "Explosion," 6-7.

17 Ibid., 4-7.

18 Barton J. Bernstein, "The Atomic Bombings Reconsidered," Foreign Affairs (January-February 1995): 150.

19 Peter N. Kirstein, "The Tragedy of Nagasaki," Letter, Chicago Sun-Times, August 4, 1995.

20 Ralph A. Bard, "Memorandum on the Use of S-1 Bomb," June 27, 1945; roll 6, file 76, H-B Files. Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of the American Myth (New York: Vintage, 1995), 85, 328-29.

21 Edward Teller, Memoirs: A Twentieth-Century Journey in Science and Politics (Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus, 2001), 215.

22 W. G. Sebald, On the Natural History of Destruction (New York: Random House, 2003). A pioneering work on memory and strategic bombing of primarily Germany but also Japan.

23 Martin Harwit, An Exhibit Denied: Lobbying the History of Enola Gay (New York: Copernicus, 1996).

24 John Dower, War Without Mercy (New York: Pantheon Books, 1986), 77-200.

 


Letters....

Debs Dinner

I thought Ron Baiman's "A Dinner in the Trenches of the Low Wage Economy" in New Ground 88 was the best report ever made on our annual Eugene V. Debs - Norman Thomas - Michael Harrington Dinner.

I have only one little complain of Ron: he does not give credit to the participants of the Dinner, of the unions, and to the Program Book, that made it possible for Chicago DSA (see meeting synopsis) to contribute to all the worthy causes that we believe in.

Without the financial success of the Dinner, these contributions would not be possible. Our thanks should go to our Annual Dinner supporters, to the unions who year in and year out make their financial contribution, and to the contributors to the Program Book that makes it so interesting.

And my usual complaint: that Bob Roman's work and dedication is so important to the success of the Dinner. Is there anyone who understands how much work there is in organizing the Dinner and printing the Program Book? Kathy Devine and I can help but after that it is Bob who puts the Dinner together and makes for its success year in and year out.

In solidarity,

Carl Shier

Editor's Note: Carl Shier was the recipient of the 1982 Thomas - Debs Award and he has been a member of the Dinner Committee for 45 years. Copies of the 2003 program book are available upon request, and a pdf version of the book is available on the web at http://www.chicagodsa.org/2003book.pdf.


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