Dismantling the Prisonhouse of Nations II: The Treatment of Prisoners in the US — Comment

December 3rd, 2009

There are two key criteria for evaluating national incarceration policy: 1) the number of citizens that are incarcerated in a nation, and 2) the treatment of those prisoners. US incarceration rates — the highest in the modern world — and their causes, are thoroughly explored in “Dismantling the Prisonhouse of Nations: A Socialist Prison Reform Proposal”. http://combatingglobalization.com/articles/dismantling_the_prisonhouse_of_nations.html

The present article focuses on the treatment of prisoners in the USA.

Read and Comment on this article.

The Demise of the Death Penalty in the USA: the Politics of Capital Punishment and the Question of Innocence — Comment

November 29th, 2009

The Killing Continues

Since the suspension of the death penalty in Japan in September of 2009, the US is the only developed nation in the world that continues to execute its citizens — but, perhaps, not for long.  The unmasking of the political agenda behind state sanctioned killing during the past 25 years and the growing number of exonerations of prisoners on death row could lead to the final demise of the death penalty in the USA.

Civil executions across the nation were halted temporarily 40 years ago and should never have resumed.  Understanding why the death penalty was restored opens the door for the campaign to permanently abolish capital punishment.

Read the article and comment.

Dismantling the Prisonhouse of Nations: A Socialist Prison Reform Proposal — Comment

September 24th, 2009

The United States deserves the title, the Prisonhouse of Nations[i] :

 

  • The US is also a world leader in executing its citizens, following only the repressive political regimes of China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia in the number of executions in 2008.  The US and Japan are the only states in the developed world that continue to impose capital punishment on their citizens. (http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty)   

            Both of these repressive social practices — mass incarceration and the continuing use of the death penalty — are direct results of the reactionary US prison policies that have been in effect for the last 30 years.  This Socialist Prison Reform Proposal (SPRP) provides a starting point to reverse these trends of political repression and secure justice for working people in the US.

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The entire article, entitled Dismantling the Prisonhouse of Nations: A Socialist Prison Reform Proposal, is available online or as a pdf download at http://combatingglobalization.com.        

 


[i] The phrase “Prisonhouse of Nations” is borrowed from journalist and death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal’s latest book, Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners in the U.S.A. (San Francisco: City Light Books, 2009).  For a review of this important book go to http://combatingglobalization.com/articles/jailhouse_lawyers.html

Neoliberalism Needs Death Squads in Colombia — Comment

September 13th, 2009

Hans Bennett’s Neoliberalism Needs Death Squads in Colombia adds an international dimension to From the Left.  Bennett’s review of Blood & Capital: The Paramilitarization of Colombia by Jasmin Hristov provides the background necessary to understand how neoliberal globalization has shaped the political landscape of Colombia.

Read this important article.

Prisonhouse of Nations: A Review of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Jailhouse Lawyers

September 4th, 2009

More than a book about prisoners defending prisoners in what the author justly calls “the Prisonhouse of Nations”, Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Jailhouse Lawyers has the potential to jump-start the prison reform movement in the US.  In addition to telling the individual stories of the best (and worst) jailhouse lawyers defending themselves and their fellow prisoners in the face of official hostility and, in many instances personal danger, and presenting a lively history of jailhouse lawyering in modern America, Abu-Jamal clearly exposes the political and racial bias of the US criminal justice system and explores the role of jailhouse lawyers in the jungle of American law.

Read the complete review.

Globalization and the Incarceration of the Black Working Class — Comment

June 24th, 2009

Incarceration practices in the United States are egregious by any standards, and, although the issue is obscured by pundits and politicians, rigorous political analysis of national prison policy exposes the root of the issue.

Read the article.

North American Free Trade Zones (FTZs) — Comment

June 17th, 2009

Free Trade Zones (FTZs) are legally defined areas provided and underwritten by governments to facilitate the exploitation of FTL within their jurisdictions. Free trade zones in North America are undermining US and Canadian transportation workers across the continent.

Read the article.

The Socialist Alternative — Comment

May 20th, 2009

With the decline and fall of the Soviet Union in the late 20th century, the wardens of corporate power proclaimed that there was no longer any alternative to living under the dictatorship of world capitalism administered by liberal democratic states and their proxy international organizations.

Read the article.

Guest Worker Update: May 3, 2009

May 3rd, 2009

The campaign to adopt a US guest worker program that was temporarily defeated in 2007 has been relaunched.

Foundation work for the renewed campaign was started  by  former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Immigration, Refugees and Border  Security on April 30.

Greenspan reminded the committee members of the contributions that undocumented workers have historically made to the US economy and argued that reform to bring immigration laws “up to date” is urgently needed.

“Up to date”  in the present context means that the US should follow the lead of other developed counties around the world by adopting a guest worker program to legally exploit temporary labor from the poor countries in the global South.

What Greenspan is backing  is a national guest worker program to legalize and control the importation (and deportation) of workers to meet the needs of US capitalism.  He calls it a “flexible” workforce.

The  current strategy is to a refinement of what was done to offset the recession of 2001 through a de facto open border policy.

Greenspan did not mention the impact of a national pool of temporary labor on the working people of the US: that is of no consequence for him or the people for whom he speaks.

The fact that a new proposal for a guest worker program has not yet been placed on the table should fool no one–it is being prepared under the table and will appear suddenly when capital is prepared to play its hand.

History has taught us that blitz legislation is just as binding as laws produced through open negotiation.

I will post regular updates on this critical issue as the campaign develops.

There are no sharks in the water and free trade is good for you!

April 20th, 2009

AMITY ISLAND–June, 1975. Police Chief Martin Brody, who had just recovered the mangled body of the victim of a horrific shark attack, was called to an emergency meeting of the town council. There is was shark problem, Amity Mayor Larry Vaughn informed Brody, no need to be alarmist. The tourist season was about to open and business needed to proceed as usual. Brody reluctantly deferred to the businessmen who ran the town. The disastrous results are cinema history (JAWS).

GRANITE CITY, Ill. — March, 2009. Jeff Rains, a retired steelworker from the Granite City steel mill made a disturbing discovery. While waiting for a slow freight train to pass by, he noticed that the flatcars were loaded with stacks of steel pipe — all clearly stenciled, “MADE IN INDIA” (For photos and story see http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/business/economy/16pipe.html?scp=1&sq=pipe%20from%20India&st=cse). This pipe was passing through his city where the local steel mill has been shut down since December — the first time in its 130 year history — and 2,000 workers (10 percent of the city’s work force) have been laid-off.

The final destination of the Indian tubing was the 1,600 mile Keystone Pipeline now being constructed to transport oil from the tar sand fields in Alberta, Canada to refineries in Oklahoma. A section of this pipeline will pass close to Granite City. Forty percent of the 560,000 tons of pipe purchased for the project was produced in India.

“I was very mad when I saw that they were imported; I wondered why this pipe had not been made in the United States,” the New York Times quoted Rains as saying.

After the train had passed, Rains headed to the local union hall to sound the alarm.

Rains’ alarm got lost in transmission. In defiance of logic and common sense, the United Steelworkers’ leaders continue to endorse the free trade policies that have stimulated the mass offshoring of US manufacturing jobs to the cheapest labor markets on earth. With convoluted reasoning union officials argue that the Indian and Chinese steel flooding the US market is not a result of free trade but “a violation of fair trade“! It is the generous subsidies of the Indian government, they contend, that allows for the dumping of steel in the US at below market value. Not a word was said about the US government underwriting the brutal exploitation of foreign labor abroad or ignoring the needs of displaced workers at home.

There are no sharks in the water, Mr. Rains, and free trade is good for you and your community!

US capitalism is utilizing all of the resources that it commands–the mass media, well-funded think tanks and lobbyists, extensive university connections, and class collaborators within the ranks of organized labor–to obscure the critical issue that is at the heart of the current national and global crisis–the fact that free trade labor is a zero-sum game for working people that they will continue to lose until they confront it openly (http://combatingglobalization.com/articles/free_trade_labor.html).

The sharks in the water in the present scenario are the free trade advocates who are working feverishly behind the scene for more free trade to solve the current crisis of capitalism. The last thing working people of the world need now is to continue swimming with the neoliberal sharks.