Friday, March 6, 2020

Bernie Sanders stands alone now, save for his grassroots army, and facing him are the politically elite of the Democratic Party, both black and white, Wall Street, and the corporate media

(Political cartoonist Thomas Nast's 1871 depiction of New York City's Boss Tweed, an inspiration for today's elite political class)

Back at the beginning of the 20th century, muckraking journalist Charles Edward Russell noticed how U.S. senators, as a political class, all seemed to look alike.

“Well-fed and portly gentlemen, almost nobody in that chamber had any other reason to be there than his skill in valeting for some powerful interest,” Russell observed. “We had no Senate; we had only a chamber of butlers for industrialists and financiers.”

Another muckraking writer, David Graham Phillips, taking his cue from Russell, would go on to publish a damning series of articles in Cosmopolitan called “The Treason of the Senate” in which he called the Senate “an eager, resourceful, indefatigable agent of interest as hostile to the American people as any invading army could be, and vastly more dangerous: interests that manipulate the property produced by all, so that it heaps up riches for the few; interests whose growth and power can only man the degradation of the people.”

Applied today, Russell and Phillips’ indictment could be expanded to much of the political class in Washington, D.C., whose sycophantic loyalty to their billionaire donors, Wall Street and the mega-corporations that actually run America, is fully endorsed by a fawning corporate media.

This is what Bernie Sanders is up against in the race for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination, folks.

He’s all alone now, save for the millions of mostly young ground troops who are trying to make his message heard beyond the megaphones of CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the rest of the elite establishment media. “Running Bernie Sanders Against Trump Would Be an Act of Insanity”, “Bernie Can’t Win”, and “Bernie Sanders’ Agenda Makes Him the Definition of Unelectable” are the messages screaming through those megaphones.

He came into the South with the strong tailwind given him by his victories in New Hampshire and Nevada and shared victory in Iowa. Then in marched South Carolina’s black political boss James Clyburn, a 27-year-veteran congressman, House Majority Whip, and the be-all, end-all of black politics in his state.

Clyburn gave Biden a rousing endorsement that not only won the candidate the South Carolina primary but helped catapult him to Super Tuesday victories across the South, where huge black populations loom large in Democratic primaries.

Clyburn may be black, but he’s also establishment. Otherwise, why would he endorse a candidate whose record includes working with erstwhile segregationist South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond to make the nation’s criminal justice system more punitive, who opposed busing in the fight against school segregation, who called for cuts in Social Security on the Senate floor, who crawled in bed with Big Pharma, the credit card industry, and the banks rather than stand up to them on behalf of the people, a candidate who even eulogized Thurmond as a “brave man” whose legacy is a “gift to us all”?

Biden came out of Super Tuesday re-invigorated after his poor beginning in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, and the rest of the centrist political establishment rushed to stand beside him, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and O’Rourke. Black congressman Bennie Thompson in Mississippi, as establishment now as Clyburn, also joined the growing ranks of the elite in the Biden camp.

Sanders’ alleged fellow progressive, Elizabeth Warren, also dropped out of the race, but instead of throwing her support to Sanders she went on national television to criticize him and his supporters.

Sanders went on national television, too, before the discredited Rachel Maddow, who spent much of their time together pummeling him with questions about why young voters didn’t turn in larger numbers to support him. Sanders pointed to the traditionally low turnout among such voters, but what he should have done is point to an investigative study this past week by the crusading Facing South web magazine in North Carolina that much better explained that turnout.

“Republican-led legislatures in the South have continued to erect barriers to voting that disproportionately affect youth,” Facing South’s Benjamin Barber reported. “They include strict voter identification laws and registration restrictions, as well as closures of campus polling places.”

Citing statistics from the Campus Vote Project, Barber reported seven of 17 states passing laws requiring voter IDs in recent years will not accept student IDs. This includes South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. “In Tennessee, a faculty ID is an acceptable form of voters identification but a student ID is not. And in Texas, student IDs from public universities are not accepted for voting while gun licenses are.”

The corruption in U.S. politics is so endemic it’s hard even for the experts to see it for what it really is. What it really is, folks, is a special American brand of fascism that is creeping across this land. It knows no party and no allegiance other than to the almighty American dollar that is its god.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Bernie Sanders' challenge to the DNC and MSNBC and CNN establishment evokes the Populist uprising of the 1890s

(Bernie Sanders campaigning for unionization of the Nissan plant in Mississippi back in 2017)

Bernie Sanders’ challenge to the Democratic Party establishment evokes memories of the Populist uprising against the nation’s two-party system more than a century ago, as does the Democratic Party’s current maneuverings to destroy Bernie’s challenge.

Back in the 1890s, the People’s Party, better known as the Populists, gave the leaders of the nation’s two major political parties the scare of their lives, mounting the biggest third-party challenge in U.S. history. It was indeed a people’s party, challenging the corporate hegemony that had taken over the nation and giving a long-overdue voice to the farmers, factory workers - both black and white - and small business folks that both the Democratic and Republican parties had too long ignored. In many ways, the establishment parties had become what Louisiana’s Huey Long would decades later deride as the “high popalorum” and “low popahirum” of American politics, what Alabama Gov. George Wallace meant three decades later when he said there’s “not a dime’s worth of difference” in the two major parties.

As flawed as Long and Wallace may have been, they were on to something.

(To the right, Huey Long of Louisiana)

Post-Civil War greed and the piles of money coming out of industrialization had so corrupted American politics by the end of the 19th century that average working folks had nowhere to turn other than a third party. In the South, ruling “Bourbon Democrats” appealed “to Southerners when they recalled nostalgic antebellum days and identified themselves with the romantic cult of the Confederacy,” but in their hearts they “were preeminently commercial-minded men who purposely aligned themselves with the Republican-industrial North in order to exploit the manpower and resources of their section,” historian Monroe Billington has written.

(1892 Populist poster)

Well-heeled leaders of the Democratic Party finally managed to pull the rug out from under the Populists, pushing “fusion” and co-opting their key issues and maneuvering and manipulating them eventually out of existence, leaving a legacy of disillusionment that took decades to repair. The Populists “blamed themselves for ever consenting to an unholy alliance with the enemy,” Billington wrote.

The modern-day Democratic Party faces a similar challenge in the populist uprising that Bernie Sanders represents, and its leaders have and will continue to fight tooth and nail to make sure he doesn’t become its titular head and certainly not president of the United States. Working hand-in-hand with the Democratic National Committee are their compatriots MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other media stalwarts that style themselves as the official opposition to Trump/Fox News rule.

“People all over this country worked their way through school, sent their kids to school, paid off student loans,” James Carville recently ranted to MSNBC about Sanders’ call for free college tuition and student debt retirement. “They don’t want to hear this shit.”

Carville, of course, was a key architect of Clintonian politics in the 1990s, the centrist, neo-liberal, pro-corporate core philosophy of the Democratic National Committee today.

In response to Carville’s rant, writer Ed Burmila in the New Republic correctly pointed out that the 1970s world Carville invoked has little to do with today’s world, in which college expenses equal nearly 52 percent of a man’s median annual income and a whopping 81 percent of a woman’s. Today an entire generation of college graduates potentially face lifelong debt from their student loans.

MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews, himself a relic of “the good ol’ days” when he was an aide to former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill, told viewers recently he remembers the Cold War of the 1950s when critics of socialist regimes might be taken to a public park and shot, loosely implying that might be his fate under a Bernie Sanders regime. Give me a damn break!

The Democratic Party establishment, as tied to Wall Street as its Republican counterpart, is scared to death of Bernie Sanders. This was evident four years ago when its operatives leaked debate questions to favored candidate Hillary Clinton to give her an advantage over challenger Sanders. That same establishment spent nearly the next three years constructing “Russiagate” to claim it was Russian collusion that elected Trump, not Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign, Russian collusion that exposed the corruption within official Democratic ranks. In the process, “journalists” like Rachel Maddow completely lost credit by buying into the Russiagate conspiracy hook, line, and sinker.

More recently, the Iowa caucus exposed more DNC and Clintonian shenanigans as the Iowa Democratic Party decided to use an app designed by Clinton operatives to tally the vote, ultimately screwing up the count long enough to make sure Bernie Sanders didn’t come out of Iowa with any kind of momentum that might help him in the New Hampshire primary. Well, he won the New Hampshire primary despite their best efforts and now is the leader in the still-wide field of Democratic candidates.

Next to enter the stage was billionaire and former Republican Mike Bloomberg buying his way into second place behind Bernie with untold millions of dollars in television and social media ads that paint him as kind of a Lone Ranger there to save the party from a socialist takeover (which is his real goal, even more than defeating Donald Trump). However, Bloomberg’s disastrous performance in the debate before the Nevada caucus proved that even tons of money can’t hide the host of skeletons in his closet.

To get truth about this campaign one has to go to social media and YouTube programs like “The Hill” and hear former MSNBC commentator Krystal Ball tell it like it truly is. Another is Kyle Kulinski. Still another is Jimmy Dore. Here you get the cogent analysis that’s missing in traditional media. They’re young, sharp, and hungry for truth, and they speak to the same generation that has become the core of Bernie Sanders’ movement. They’re the future, not James Carville, Chris Matthews, and the other troglodytes who believe they still have something to say to the American people.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Kirk Douglas, the ragman's son who became a star and helped end the fascist Hollywood blacklist

(Kirk Douglas in 1955)

I was preparing to write about the sordidness of the Iowa caucus and American politics in general as the Democratic National Party, aided and abetted by CNN and MSNBC, does everything it can to scuttle presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, but I’ll hold that for later as more pressing is to address the legacy of the great Hollywood actor Kirk Douglas, who passed away this week at the age of 103. He was my favorite actor, a hero on the screen but also in real life, and he deserves an appreciation here in Labor South.

I never got to meet you, but I almost did. It was 1988 at a bookstore in Washington, D.C., and you were signing copies of your autobiography The Ragman’s Son. The line was long to get a signed copy, but I waited patiently. It was down to a mere handful of folks in front of me when they announced the signing was over. Still, they came to the first few of us, collected our books, and I got your “For Rachel and Michael, Kirk Douglas, ‘88” on the cover page of my copy. When my day comes, I’m not sure which of my children will inherit it. A quandary!

You wrote The Ragman’s Son yourself, no ghost writer, unusual for books by celebrities. It’s a good book, and it launched a second career for you as a writer. You were indeed the son of a ragman, Herschel Danielovich, a Russian Jewish peasant, and Bryna Sanglel, daughter of Ukrainian farmers, both illiterate immigrants escaping the Cossack swords and clubs of the pogroms sweeping across the villages of their homeland. Your father became a hard-drinking, brawling ragman in Amsterdam, New York, collecting and selling rags and junk from his horse-drawn wagon, “the lowest rung on the ladder” even “in the poorest section of town.”

You would later tell your children they didn’t have the advantage of growing up poor. Your mother warned you not to become your father, and you did escape his world, but you carried with you its memories and they helped give you the drive that made you one of Hollywood’s greatest actors.

My first encounter with you was a Sunday evening when my family sat down in front of the television to watch your 1960 film Spartacus, that epic tale of an historic slave uprising against the Roman Empire led by the slave Spartacus. He would go on to become the namesake of the radical Spartacus League in Berlin, Germany, that led major strikes again German munitions factories around 1917.

I had little political consciousness when I first watched Spartacus but something in its David-and-Goliath story appealed to me. I would much later learn that you, as its producer as well as its star, would insist that Dalton Trumbo write the screenplay and receive credit for it. Trumbo had been blacklisted by the Communist witch-hunting House for Un-American Activities Committee and essentially banned from Hollywood. Director Stanley Kubrick, brilliant but vain and egotistical, suggested he get credit for the screenplay to avoid the bad publicity Trumbo’s name would create. You said “No”.

“Stanley’s eagerness to use Dalton revolted us,” you wrote in The Ragman’s Son. “That night it all suddenly became very clear. I knew what name to put on the screen.”

That act helped bring an end to the Hollywood blacklist that destroyed so many careers and even lives. It’s a period of infamy in Hollywood and the nation’s history, a time when a peculiarly American brand of fascism was allowed to reign and wreak havoc in the name of democracy.

"Some of the people accused of being Communists were Communists, but that is not against the law in the United States," you wrote. "I think we spend too much time fighting communism instead of fighting to make democracy better." 

From Spartacus, I would go on to watch and love other films of yours, great film noirs like The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Out of the Past (1947), Ace in the Hole (1951), Detective Story (1951), and The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), which I watched again just the other night. So many others—Champion (1949), Lust for Life (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), Lonely Are the Brave (1962), all those films with one of my other favorite actors, Burt Lancaster—rank right up there among the best ever, tales of backstabbing boxers, manipulating movie moguls, tortured artists, conflicted soldiers and cowboys out of sync with the times.

In your 2014 book of poetry and memories, Life Could Be Verse, which you dedicated to your wife of 60 years, Anne, you say, “Hard work can get you fame and fortune, maybe make you a star, but nothing will make you happy until you know who you are.”  Let me add a thank you for your hard work. It helped make a lot of people happy, including me.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Shakespeare's plays are filled with warnings of what one scholar called the "cynical privilege, murderous imperialism, cold exploitation" that comes with the misuse of power

Labor South borrowed from Shakespeare near the end of 2019, so it is appropriate to begin 2020 with The Bard, who still has something to say in these modern times.
Shakespeare’s King Henry IV, near the end of the reign that he murdered his way to get, finally sees what he will leave in his wake.  “How foul it is (the body of our kingdom), what rank diseases grow, and with what danger near the heart of it.”

The great Shakespearean scholar Charles Harrison, in his 1985 collection of essays, Shakespeare’s Insistent Theme, writes how the world’s greatest playwright saw corruption and misuse of power as a violation against nature and moral order, a rottenness at the core of the state that ultimately infects the entire state. It’s a theme that runs through Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, Julius Caesar, King Lear, and throughout his work.

In those plays lies “a paradigm of cynical privilege, murderous imperialism, cold exploitation,” Harrison writes. “Shakespeare’s plays abound in tyrannical kings, murderous dukes, venal bishops, and domineering fathers, set over against soldiers and servants and doctors and gardeners and boatswains who are models of courage, generosity, and sanity.”

It’s a vision of the modern world just as much as it was of the Roman Empire and Shakespeare’s own times. What is “cynical privilege” if not Wall Street and the neoliberal rule of the IMF, World Bank as well as the European Union with their “austerity” policies that cripple worker protections and needed social programs to enrich modern-day usurers who would shame Shylock?

What is “murderous imperialism” if not the secret maneuverings of the CIA and the White House in aiding the right-wing overthrow of governments such as in Honduras and more recently Bolivia? The 2009 U.S.-backed coup in Honduras has left that country with 60 percent of its population living in poverty.

Aided and abetted by mainstream media and a donor-compromised Democratic Party as well as a bought-and-paid-for Republican Party, the Trump White House continues to play the "Ugly American" in Latin America. Angry at Argentina for providing deposed Bolivian leader Evo Morales refuge, it has also warned the nation's new left-leaning government of Alberto Fernandez and Christina Kirchner to distance itself from pariah nations like Venezuela and Cuba or face dire consequences from the IMF and other organizations in the region it essentially controls.

This “murderous imperialism”, of course, stretches across the Middle East, where President Trump and his minions are defying Iraq’s demand that U.S. soldiers leave the country in the wake of the targeted killing of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani, who yes was responsible for killing American soldiers after their political leaders put them in harm’s way on the other side of the world but who also was an effective combatant against mutual enemies like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Islamic State.

What is “cold exploitation” if not Trump’s haranguing of immigrants crossing U.S. borders to escape the ravages of, yes, drug wars but also the poverty and desperation handed them by neoliberal rule in their region, by NAFTA and other trade deals that destroyed their farms, and by the climate change that Trump refuses to acknowledge? “Climate change is one of the central factors driving refugees to cross the U.S. southern border,” writes Joshua Cho in Extra!, the news letter of the media watch group FAIR. Floods, hurricanes, and drought affect the poor more than anyone, and they often have no choice but to leave their homes.    

The working class and the poor suffer most from the Darwinian capitalism that’s practiced today—whether it’s migrants and refugees from central America or African Americans who were duped into buying homes on top of Louisiana’s toxic landfills (see Lauren Zanolli’s article in the January 3 edition of The Guardian) or the struggling North Carolinians, many of them African American, who live downwind and downstream from that state’s massive pork producing industry.

The earth shouldn’t be used “as a resource to be exploited but as a home to be preserved, with trust in God,” Pope Francis has said.

However, what if the only god the exploiters trust is money?

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

They were strangers in a strange land seeking safety and a better life for their newborn child

(14th Century Italian artist Giotto's depiction of the Holy Family in flight)

Following is a column I've run before during this time of year. The issue it addresses remains with us today.

They were descendants of immigrants who themselves became immigrants.

Soon after the baby arrived, a dream came to the father that the little family would have to leave their homeland if they were to survive. Even the life of an innocent child was in danger in their homeland.

So the three of them—father, mother and child—left their tiny village and embarked on a treacherous journey through the desert wilderness. They were very poor and had little more than the clothes on their backs.

They traveled by day and by night, ever fearful they might be captured or attacked, until they finally crossed the border. They brought no documentation with them, only their humility and the father’s willingness to work hard to support his family.

He was a trained craftsman, good with his hands, and his work was valued even if he was paid so little he could never hope to rise out of his poverty. With his teenage wife tending to their baby, he went out among the people to earn bread and shelter for them.

He heard the whisperings among those in this new land. They called him and his family foreigners, outsiders, and even illegal aliens, as if they had come from the moon and their very existence was something less than human, a violation of not only the law of the land but also God’s law.

“They’re just here to take our jobs, to feed, house, and clothe themselves at our expense,” he heard one of them say.

“They don’t even take the time to learn our language,” said another.

“Why are they even here? Is their own country not good enough for them? Perhaps they’re spies,” said yet another.

“The way people like these spawn they’ll soon be everywhere, expecting their new offspring to be treated equally just because they were born here, like so many little anchors for their illegal parents. Anchor babies, that’s what they’ll be.”

Some of these whisperings came from the very people who benefited from his labors. They would say these things as soon as they walked away from the worksite and rejoined their neighbors and friends. Local leaders heard the comments, too, and saw an advantage in such fears, prejudice, and suspicions. So they began to talk among the crowds and, being leaders, talked loudest of all, loud enough for everyone to hear.

Even some of the priests joined the chorus, invoking God’s judgment from their pulpits, condemning the strangers for breaking the law and taking advantage of people’s hospitality.

The father and mother, already homesick, longed for their faraway families and friends. They knew many did not welcome them in this strange land, but they also feared for their child’s life if they returned home. Did their little child have any idea of all the troubles that surrounded them?

The father remembered how his ancestors had been immigrants to this very land many generations before and had prospered here, but then a new leader had turned them into slaves and they had left. Now he and his wife and child had returned because their own land had become hostile. When would it all end? Where was there a refuge?

Eventually the father, whose namesake had been a dreamer and an interpreter of dreams, had yet another dream, and this one told him the time had come to return home. So he and his wife packed their belongings, wrapped up their child to keep it warm, and journeyed back to their homeland. They had to be careful. Dangers still lurked, but at least they were home.

And back in the strange land where they had sought refuge, some indeed missed them. “He did good work,” one said. “You know, they never really bothered anyone,” another said.

But these voices were quickly drowned out by the leaders and their priests who cried “Good riddance!” and then looked for others to condemn.

Friday, December 6, 2019

U.S. political leaders, as hypocritical as Shakespeare's Richard III, talk freedom and democracy but demand corporate neoliberal rule in Latin America

(To the left below, Shakespeare's Richard III as depicted by the 19th century artist Sir John Gilbert)

Ah, what a glorious hypocrite was the murderous King Richard III in Shakespeare’s 1591 play.

                        “Madam, so thrive I in my enterprise
                          And dangerous success of bloody wars
                          As I intend more good to you and yours
                         Than ever you and yours by me were harm’d!”

These were the tyrant’s words to Queen Elizabeth after he’d had her two young sons murdered along with a host of other victims of his relentless ambition to grab and keep the throne. With his hands drenched in blood, he even dares ask the queen if he can have her daughter in marriage! Here is her response:

               “No doubt the murderous knife was dull and blunt
                Till it was whetted on thy stone-hard heart,
                To revel in the entrails of my lambs.”

 What drives me to quote Shakespeare in this blog are the similarities of Richard’s hypocrisy and that of the United States in its relationship to Latin America. It’s a hypocrisy that mainstream U.S. media share--from the New York Times and the Washington Post to the major TV networks.

What country boasts more about freedom and democracy than the United States, and what country has worked harder to destroy both in the nations to its south? Memories of the CIA-backed overthrow of the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, on September 11, 1973, came fresh to my mind when I heard of the recent coup in Bolivia that toppled the duly elected presidency of Evo Morales. President Trump, of course, immediately recognized the new military-and-police-backed regime that has already hammered down hard on protests and dissenters.

Of all the presidential candidates in the Democratic Party, only Bernie Sanders has called the overthrow what it was, a “coup”. Even anti-regime-change candidate Tulsi Gabbard has been reluctant to weigh in on developments in Bolivia. “I think Morales did a very good job in alleviating poverty and giving the indigenous people of Bolivia a voice that they never had before,” Sanders said at the Spanish language network Univision’s Democratic forum last month. “But at the end of the day, it was the military who intervened … . When the military intervenes … that’s called a coup.”

The near silence in the mainstream media is telling. Note how their coverage of protests around the world mainly focuses on the increasingly violent protests in Hong Kong against the Chinese government rather than the widespread protests in Haiti against the corruption of U.S.-backed President Jovenel Moïse, against billionaire Chilean leader Sebastian Piñera’s punitive hike in subway fairs, and against Equador President Lenin Moreno’s slashing of fuel subsidies.

Those protests have led to 35 deaths in Haiti and 19 in Chile. In Hong Kong one person has died during the protests. Mainstream media coverage reflects and upholds U.S. official policy. The Trump Administration, like its predecessors, wants governments in Latin America that are open to U.S. business, and it matters not if those governments are military juntas or dictatorships. Anything that makes China look bad is good for U.S. policy. Trump is waging his trade war with China because he wants the Communist government there to be just as corporatized as the U.S. government is.

“When official enemies can be presented as evil and allies as sympathetic victims, corporate media will be very interested in a story,” writes Alan MacLeod in EXTRA!, the newsletter of the FAIR media watch group. “In contrast, they will show far less enthusiasm for a story when the `wrong’ people are the villains or the victims.”

Many suspect U.S. agents to be encouraging the protests in Hong Kong that continue and grow even more violent despite China and the Hong Kong governments concession to protesters’ original demand that a new extradition law be dumped. From his exile in Mexico, Morales has called the coup in his country U.S.-backed.

One doesn’t have to look hard to see evidence of U.S. meddling in the affairs of Latin American countries—another hypocrisy given all the hand-wringing about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. President Obama’s secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, backed the brutal regime change in Honduras that has led the killing of some 30 trade unionists there since 2009. Fears grow that Trump will move beyond economic sanctions against Venezuela and eventually take military action to remove President Nicolás Maduro from power. After all, his former National Security Advisor John Bolton told Fox News in early 2019 that “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”

Argentina and its new Peronist, anti-neoliberal leaders Alberto Fernandez and Christina Kirchner better keep a round-the-clock watch because the White House and the corporatized foreign policy establishment in Washington, D.C., are not too happy about the departure of their boy, Mauricio Macri, from leadership in that country.

“This is the winter of our discontent,” Richard says at the beginning of Shakespeare’s play. “I am determined to prove a villain, and hate the idle pleasures of these days. Plots I have laid, inductions, dangerous … I am subtle, false, and treacherous.”

Such a confession! Of course, Richard is alone when he says these words, and no one is listening except those of us watching the play from our safe distance.   

Thursday, November 7, 2019

UPDATE (11-11-19) - Coup in Bolivia as Latin Americans rise in protest against the neoliberal policies pushed by the U.S., the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank

A coup in Bolivia has forced President Evo Morales to step down, fulfilling predictions in a Labor South post last week and in an earlier post that neoliberal forces will not tolerate a social uprising against global capital without intervention.

Amid intense and often violent protests and strong pressure from his nation's military, Morales agreed this weekend to step down rather than see Bolivia plunge even deeper into crisis. He had just won another term in office in a contested election. A new election is expected. The coup has been condemned by leaders in Argentina and other Latin American nations as well as by British labor leader Jeremy Corbyn and others. Many see the coup as a blow to democracy and believe it was U.S.-backed, which wouldn't be the first time the Great Yankee to the north has interfered directly in the politics of nations to its south. Below is last week's post:

I teach a course at the University of Mississippi on “Documentary and Social Issues”, and today we finished watching Barbara Kopple’s 1976 classic Harlan County U.S.A, the tale of the long and bloody struggle of unionized Kentucky coal miners to get company owners to give them a fair contract that ensures fair wages and good safety conditions.

The lesson in the film is that the fight goes on even after a battle victory because the other side is fighting a war, and it will never have a change of heart and deal fairly without intense pressure from working people.

The same can be said in regard to the recent strikes by the United Auto Workers and school teachers in Chicago that forced both corporate and government leaders to the bargaining table. What came out of those bargaining sessions wasn’t completely satisfactory to all the strikers but the protests—and that’s essentially what a strike is--did force a resolution and compromise—if only for the time being. As those Harlan County miners from back in the 1970s would tell you, keep vigilant. The other side will always be looking for a sign of weakness.

It’s a lesson well heeded today, too, in Latin America, where protests are rising against the neoliberal policies of the U.S. government, Wall Street, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank that have forced governments to strip away social programs and worker rights as part of the “austerity” needed to repay the giant loans owed these institutions. In other words, adopt a Social Darwinist capitalism or else.

People have had enough of it. They’ve taken to the streets in Chile to protest the regime of billionaire Sebastian Piñera and a recent hike in subway fares that is most punitive to workers, the straw that broke the camel’s back. The slashing of fuel subsidies in President Lenin Moreno’s Equador also has led to huge protests that have rocked the nation. Haitians are in the streets as well to protest political corruption in that country. Bolivian voters recently put anti-neoliberal Evo Morales back in office for another term, a protest in itself at the ballot box. Morales has dramatically reduced poverty in his country and become a symbol of hope particularly for the nation's indigenous groups.

And, following up on an earlier Labor South post, Peronist Alberto Fernandez and his running mate and former president Christina Kirchner defeated neoliberal Mauricio Macri in that country's recent election, a slap in the face to Macri’s own austerity policies and utter allegiance to the financial interests further north that have long kept his nation in bondage.

Latin America is swinging left again, thank goodness, but it must remain vigilant. The eyes of the Big Yankee regime to the north are watching. The sordid history of the United States’ policies in Latin America stands ready to be repeated. A nation itself founded in revolution against the foreign power that controlled it has become the most powerful defender of such control in its relations to countries to its south.