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MASS PICKET!!! DEFEND THE POSTAL SERVICE!

SArallypostlsrvc201451*UPDATE: Below is the video showing the picket and rally held recently to defend Canada’s postal service.
    Protest against the plan to terminate door to door mail delivery hit Toronto streets and the mass media on Saturday afternoon, March 15.  Close to one hundred people answered the call of Socialist Action and braved freezing high winds to picket the constituency office of Conservative Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver, located at Lawrence Ave. and Bathurst St., a busy uptown intersection.      VIDEO HERE

    Members of more than a dozen labour unions, political parties and community groups rallied to demand that Canada Post Corporation and the Conservative federal government of Stephen Harper reverse the decision to phase out home mail delivery to over 5 million addresses, and refrain from increasing the price of postage.

Protest against the plan to terminate door to door mail delivery hit Toronto streets and the mass media on Saturday afternoon, March 15.  Close to one hundred people answered the call of Socialist Action and braved freezing high winds to picket the constituency office of Conservative Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver, located at Lawrence Ave. and Bathurst St., a busy uptown intersection.

    Members of more than a dozen labour unions, political parties and community groups rallied to demand that Canada Post Corporation and the Conservative federal government of Stephen Harper reverse the decision to phase out home mail delivery to over 5 million addresses, and refrain from increasing the price of postage.
    Demonstrators walked in an oblong loop on the sidewalk next to the MP’s office entrance and chanted:  Stop the Cuts at CanadaSArallypostlsrvc201442 Post, Save Letter Carrier Jobs, No Cuts No Price Hikes – Defend Postal Services, and Seniors Demand Home Mail Delivery.
    About one quarter of the crowd appeared to be members of the Toronto Local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).  The rest identified as partisans of UNIFOR, UNITE HERE, OPSEU, CUPE, secondary school teachers, and a host of local groups including Put Food in the Budget and the United Jewish People’s Order.
    Placards signed by Socialist Action, plus a large SA banner were highly visible on the street, and in the TV coverage of the event broadcast by CBC, CTV, CITY-TV, OMNI-TV and CP24.  Participants sported buttons ‘Save Canada Post’ distributed by CUPW, and bought 13 bright yellow buttons produced by SA bearing the slogan ‘Capitalism is Organized Crime’.
    Protest organizer and SA federal secretary Barry Weisleder told the crowd, “The scheme to curtail home mail delivery is part of a plan to gut the federal public sector.  It is part of a plan to shrink postal workers’ pensions and to break a progressive, democratic union.  It is part of a scheme to sell profitable parts of Canada Post Corporation to private sector vultures.”
    SArallypostlsrvc201492Darryl Ellis, President of the Toronto Local of CUPW, pledged that the campaign to save home mail delivery “is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  We will continue to fight until we win.”
Representatives from OPSEU, UNIFOR, PFIB, the NDP Socialist Caucus, UJPO and Youth for Socialist Action also addressed the shivering crowd.
    Weisleder, two days earlier, submitted a written application for a meeting with MP Joe Oliver.  Should the request be granted, organizers would like all the groups involved in the Saturday protest to send a rep to that close encounter with the Tory MP for Eglinton-Lawrence.
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Humour – an unlikely weapon for Aboriginal Rights

by Barry Weisleder  

A review of “The Inconvenient Indian – A Curious Account of Native People in North America” by Thomas King, published by Anchor Canada, a division of Random House, 2013, 314 pages.
ThomasKingThomas King, best known as the creator and star of the hilarious CBC Radio One series “The Dead Dog Cafe Comedy Hour”, is the author of a funny book about the sad tragedy that is the situation of North American indigenous peoples. The book is a best-seller, proving again that a serious message can reach a huge readership through the medium of satire, without debasing the cause.
Born in Sacramento, California, Thomas King is of Cherokee, Greek and German-American descent. As an adult, he migrated to Australia, where he worked for years as a photojournalist. After moving to Canada in 1980, King taught Native Studies at the University of Lethbridge in the early 1980s. He also served as a faculty member of the University of Minnesota’s American Indian Studies Department. King is currently an English professor at the University of Guelph, about an hour west of Toronto. King was the NDP candidate for Guelph in the October 14, 2008 federal election, finishing fourth behind the Liberal, Conservative, and Green Party candidates.
“The Inconvenient Indian” is a short, post-modern version of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.” King recounts the massacres inflicted by the European colonial powers, records many of the lies, broken land treaties, the physical displacement, and the cultural genocide that still masquerades as education. The author postures as the skeptic, and proceeds to eviscerate the skepticism that surrounds corporate media coverage of aboriginal issues.
Why does he use the antiquated word ‘Indian’ when First Nations is the term of choice in Canada, and Native Americans is preferred in the United States? King calls it “the North American default”. Then he amusingly disparages his decision to name the non-native population ‘Whites.’ “Well, I struggled with this one. A Japanese friend of mine likes to call Anglos ‘crazy Caucasoids,’ while another friend told me that if I was going to use the term ‘Indians’ I should call everyone else ‘cowboys.’”
King identifies three kinds of Indian: Dead Indians, Live Indians and Legal Indians. Dead are the ones that “are the stereotypes and cliches that North America has conjured up out of experience and out of its collective imaginings and fears.” Society sees “war bonnets, beaded shirts, fringed deerskin dresses, headbands.” “You can find Dead Indians everywhere. Rodeos, powwows, movies, television commercials.” They pose no threat to power.inconvenient_indian_366x549px2
Live Indians, on the other hand, were an “annoying part of life in the New World.” European diseases killed about 80 per cent of them. The American newspaper mogul Horace Greeley said in 1859, “The Indians are children… the very lowest and rudest of human existence… These people must die out – there is no help for them.” King sarcastically adds: “Problem was, Live Indians didn’t die out.”
The Canadian census of 2006 records the existence of 565,000 Status Indians. The total indigenous population in Canada then, including Indians, Metis and Inuit, was 1.2 million – not counting those living on at least 22 Indian reserves, overlooked according to Statistics Canada. In the United States, federal “recognition” is granted to tribes rather than individuals. In 2009 the U.S. Federal Register recognized 564 tribes, encompassing about 950,000 people. The total number of Indians in the U.S. is around 2.4 million, or a few hundred thousand more or less, given the vagaries of the census.
Legal Indians have certain rights and privileges – because of the treaties both countries signed with Native nations. About 40 per cent of Live Indians in North America are Legal Indians. King caustically observes that “while North America loves the Dead Indian and ignores the Live Indian, North America hates the Legal Indian. Savagely.” He acerbically describes the treaties as an error in judgement that the establishment has been trying to correct for the last 150 years.
Legal Indians are ‘inconvenient’. That’s because their legal rights stand in the way of Private Profit – er, I mean Progress. (Sorry, I’m starting to sound like the author.)
But why can’t indigenous people just melt into the population at large? Sure, they’ve been robbed, kidnapped, displaced, and much worse than decimated. But why can’t they just say let’s ‘let bye-gones be by-gones’, and just ‘get over it?’
Well, should Jews, gays and Roma people just ‘get over’ the Nazi holocaust? Ought Blacks just ‘get over’ the murderous Middle Passage and nearly three hundred years of slavery? Doesn’t the commitment to the idea of ‘Never again’ require an historical memory?
How about the question of Aboriginal self-reliance?
King writes: “I’ve been told any number of times that we have to learn to stand on our own two feet and develop the skills necessary to manage on our own, without relying on government generosities.
“In the same way that Air Canada, AIG, Bombardier, Halliburton, General Motors, and the good folks out in Alberta’s Tar Sand Project manage on their own, without relying on government handouts.
“I suppose I could have mentioned Enron, World Com, Bre-X, and Bear Stearns as well, but these disasters were more greed than incompetence. Weren’t they? Though I suppose the one does not preclude the other.
“So, if I’ve got it right, while North America is reluctant to support the economic “incompetence” of Native people, it is more than willing to throw money at the incompetence of corporations. And why not? After all, if we’ve learned nothing in the last century, we should have learned that government support of big business is capitalism’s only hope.”
That’s a surprisingly radical analysis for a one-time NDP candidate, even if it is not accompanied by a concrete programme for radical change.
Here’s another way to look at the self-reliance idea, as it’s posed under capitalism. Some workers belong to a union. That gives them strength lacked by workers who don’t. Some indigenous people have treaty rights, which gives them a toe-hold, and a bit of leverage on the capitalist state. In the absence of a cooperative commonwealth for all, does it make sense to give up the little they’ve got, however ‘inconvenient’ they may be to big business?
To be sure, “The issue has always been land” insists King. “It will always be land, until there isn’t a square foot of land left in North America that is controlled by Native people.” It’s a sensitive issue, as discovered by 13-year-old Tenelle Starr from the Star Blanket First Nation, 90 kilometres north-east of Regina, Saskatchewan. She was sent home from school in early January tenelle_starrbecause she was wearing a pink hoodie bearing the slogan ‘Got Land? Thank an Indian’. The good news is that now Tenelle’s friends are sporting the slogan, and the social media is all a-buzz.
In the meantime, indigenous land titles continue to stand in the way of corporate resource extraction, even of military training bases (like the one at Stoney Point Ojibway reserve in Ontario where provincial police shot and killed native protester Dudley George in 1995).
Fortunately, indigenous peoples’ opposition to pipeline construction has helped to forge an alliance of farmers, workers and environmentalists concerned about pollution and climate change. This convergence is reflected in the broad public support for the Idle No More movement that arose in late 2012.
The path that capitalists and their governments have taken to remove the native land obstacle to profit maximization is called ‘termination’. If the policy sounds deadly, it’s no accident.
Neither is it anything new. After centuries of dispossession and genocide, ‘modern’ governments stepped up to the plate. Duncan Campbell Scott, head of Canada’s Department of Indian Affairs from 1913-1932 put it bluntly: “Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department…”
In 1953, the U.S. Congress passed the Termination Act and the Relocation Act concurrently. It allowed Congress to terminate all federal relations with tribes unilaterally, while Relocation “encouraged” Native people to quit their reservations and move to the cities.
In 1969, the Canadian government tried to do the same thing with its White Paper. Then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau suggested that there is no such thing as Indian entitlement to land or Native rights, and urged First Nations people to assimilate into Canadian society. The reaction was massively and fiercely negative. What do you suppose would happen if Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau advocated that today?
2013-01-02-idlenomorehuffpoWhile the Conservative government of Stephen Harper drags its feet, Tory ideologue Tom Flanagan openly campaigns for the termination of Native status, and for dispersal and privatization of aboriginal lands.
The interest of the working class lies in solidarity with Indigenous peoples. The reasons are clear. One is the practical need for unity between workers and all oppressed peoples against the bosses and their state. Another is based on recognition that the struggle of Indigenous people to preserve their collective land rights constitutes a powerful obstacle to the agenda of Capital – which is to turn all of nature into a commodity, for sale to the highest bidder, subject to ruthless despoliation.
Thomas King’s “The Inconvenient Indian – A Curious Account of Native People in North America” is remarkably witty, often hilarious, and a truthful companion for the important battles ahead. Read it, and use it well.

Crisis within the Ruling Bloc in Turkey

The Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office initiated a “corruption and bribery operation” on December 17. About one week later, the Ministers of Economics, the Interior, and Urban Development all resigned after their sons were arrested. Events accelerated at a dizzying pace. Prime Minister Erdogan fired seven other ministers. The chief prosecutor was taken off the case. Hundreds of police officers were removed from their posts. Although Erdogan claims that the scandal was a foreign plot, and blames the “interests-rate lobby” for trying to harm Turkey, many see the unfolding drama as a civil war between his AKP (Justice and Development Party) and the Gulenists.

BUSINESS-GULEN-ERDOGANThe Gulen Movement is a global Islamist network led by Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who lives inself-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, USA. The Gulenists were among the strongest political groups that had supported the AKP since it came to power in 2002. They joined forces with the AKP to prosecute secularist generals, and hundreds of other alleged coup plotters since 2007. Not only the top military officials, but also many innocent journalists and politicians were arrested on the basis of “fabricated evidence, secret witnesses and flights of investigative fancy”–thanks to the Gulenists’ infiltration of the judiciary and police. Such undemocratic underpinnings sustained the corrupt neo-liberal economy. This meant unprecedented profits for domestic and foreign financial capitalists and their conglomerates on the one hand, dispossession and pauperization for workers and peasants on the other.
As previously reported, numerous protests spread across Turkey after the Turkish police brutally attacked protesters in Taksim Gezi Park in summer of 2013. The popular upheaval against the authoritarian government and its neo-liberal policies had a working class character. Nevertheless, the revolt lacked political leadership and a clear political perspective. Revolutionary spirit was on the wane, but anger generated by the corruption scandal has revived it. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets on December 29. Although the number of protestors were less than in the summer, the masses proved to be as committed and determined as before.
The conflict within the ruling bloc continues as we go to press. Political instability is only one of the fears of the Turkish capitalists. occupy-gezi-protests-erdoganThe Turkish economy is heading into a crisis. Turkey’s gargantuan current account deficit worsens against the backdrop of US Federal Reserve’s decision to end its loose monetary policy–thanks to which the Turkish economy recovered from the severe hit it took from the global recession in2008 and 2009. Moreover, Turkey’s aggressive foreign policy failed in the Middle East where the popularity of its government and capitalists has crumbled. This further limits Turkish capitalism’s room for maneuver because it had high hopes for economic activism in Middle Eastern markets. In short, the exploiters are not able to “live and rule in the old way” anymore. And popular demands for change resonate to the core of the Turkish economy.
The CHP (Republican People’s Party), the main opposition, has now replaced its Kemalist-secularist rhetoric with a social democratic phraseology in order to absorb democratic demands. It seeks the support of pro-imperialist and pro-Zionist Gulenists to replace the AKP, and it strengthens its ties with the big business.
The Kurdish movement missed yet another great opportunity. Its leaders’ lukewarm opposition to the corruption scandals shows that it doesn’t want to risk the so-called “peace process” that it initiated with the AKP elites behind close doors. Its reluctance to join forces with Gulenists and CHP against the AKP is understandable, since these two political forces have always been obstacles to any democratic solution to the Kurdish question. The Kurdish people do not need another tragedy to see that their national struggle has nothing to gain from capitalists and their political parties.
The Left is still fragmented and lacks the ability to organize public dissent, although its ideas are enjoying a revival.
Intense warfare within Turkey’s ruling bloc is a sign of escalating conflicts between the capitalist class fractions as the Turkish economy hurtles towards a crisis. It also shows that imperialists are not sure whether they should bet on Erdogan or Gulenists. Imperialists employ zigzagging political tactics while their room for maneuver is narrowing in the context of the escalating crisis of imperialism in the Middle East. Needed is American and Canadian workers’ solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Turkey. Our slogan should be “Imperialist Hands off Middle East!”
2254616750_5c0d76f887The key task is building an independent working class party in Turkey. The cracks in the ruling capitalist bloc can be utilized by the working class and its allies, such as the Kurdish movement, only if an independent course of working class action is pursued. The political situation in Turkey demonstrates a crisis of political leadership. Although the masses withdraw their support from the existing bourgeois political parties, in the absence of a realistic revolutionary alternative, new pro-capitalist pseudo alternatives flourish to channel the people’s anger against the corrupt system that is based on private ownership of the means of production. Socialist Action is forging ties with revolutionary parties in Turkey, and elsewhere, which aim to overthrow the rotten capitalist disorder. — By Y. Fikret Kayali