Threats to democracy

The following letter was submitted to the Arizona Daily Star and the People’s Weekly World.

Michael Greco, president of the American Bar Association, was spot on to express his concern about the systemic threat to American democracy (“A Nation Dying of Neglect,” Arizona Daily Star, Feb. 5). Not mentioned in his article is the increasing economic polarity in our society. The top 1 percent of our population now owns more private wealth than the bottom 90 percent. The top 1 percent own 47.7 percent of stocks while the bottom 80 percent own 4.1 percent. (Office for Social Justice, www.osjspm.org).

This wealth is being expropriated by these rich and powerful Americans at an alarming rate. From 1983 to 1998, the bottom 40 percent of Americans lost 76.3 percent of their net worth, while the top 1 percent increased theirs by 42.2 percent. Such obscene disparity, embedded with frightening ignorance about the Constitution coupled with unrestrained monopolization of the economy, is a seedbed for fascism.

The broad executive powers nonchalantly exercised by President Bush, and now defended by Attorney General Gonzales, speak to this political trend. The preservation of democracy hinges on the ordered restoration of the ability of American workers to defend their class interests. We must remove the legal structural impediments to organization of labor through such legislation as The Employee Free Choice Act.

James Hannley
Tucson AZ

Inspired

I was inspired by Jose Cruz’s article (PWW 2/4-10) and to view the web site of the World Social Forum. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is quickly becoming a hero of mine, though I long for more accurate information on him. (The U.S. has such a bias against him and I’m not yet fluent in Spanish.) Socialists and environmentalists need to reconnect with the average working stiff here in America to make a greater impact.

Keith Barger
Eugene OR

Class roots of fundamentalism

The analysis by Mark Almberg of the Hamas victory (PWW 2/4-10) made important points, not least on the exclusion of most Palestinians from the vote.

The class base of religious fundamentalism — in the U.S. as well as Palestine and Iraq — lies in small exploiters and landlords. Monopoly capital has marginalized these layers through unequal exchange and predatory loans that have to be paid regardless of crises, hurricanes, wars, sanctions, or expensive oil. These layers struggle against big capital’s oppression. Labor needs to pay attention to their demands, particularly against debt enslavement.

But fundamentalism cannot find the way out. It has an interest in exploitation, and opposes land reform. It has risen to the fore in Palestine because of serious errors of working-class leadership, compounded by deproletarianization of the population (a growing problem in more and more capitalist countries).

The democratic demand for separation of church and state is as important as ever, in the U.S., Palestine and most capitalist countries. Perhaps surprisingly, so is the democratic demand for land to the tiller, which needs to be extended to include tillers displaced by capital and condemned to unemployment and slums. This demand will be opposed by both capital and the landlords. It is critical in the struggle for socialist revolution in Palestine and around the capitalist world. The sickle on communism’s flag represents our commitment to this demand.

Wadi’h Halabi
Via e-mail

‘Fair trade’ chocolate

Chocolate is a common recipe often shared by couples in love on Valentine’s Day. The best sources say chocolate came from the ancient Aztecs in what is now Mexico, where it was considered a royal aphrodisiac.

Studies today show that dark chocolate helps prevent heart disease and cancer, improving ones mood by boosting the brain chemical serotonin, much like the drug known as Prozac. But I recommend “fair trade” chocolate since the industry is notorious for child labor and worker abuse.

Jose Alberto
Chicago IL

Big Bang

John Pappademos’ review of Stephen Hawking’s “A Briefer History of Time” (PWW 1/21-27) represents a healthy dialectical-materialist view of the problem of the origin of the present form of the universe. Dogmatic currents still exist among some Marxist scientists/philosophers who attempt to rule out the Big Bang on purely philosophical grounds.

The laws of a science have to be discovered from within the science. Dialectical materialism does not replace science but serves as a methodological framework for scientific investigation within an individual science. No scientific conclusion can be imposed on a science from outside it.

Fortunately, a number of scientists and philosophers (often in the minority) fought against dogmatic imposition of philosophy on science that brought discredit to dialectical materialism. For example, Vladimir I. Fock in the USSR, Paul Langevin in France, and Mituo Taketani in Japan creatively applied dialectical-materialist methods of scientific analysis. All three were also Communists and they battled successfully within their own parties to overcome dogmatism in the physical sciences.

In its original theoretical formulation based on the mathematical physics of the general theory of relativity, the Big Bang that initiated the expanding universe was conceived as having arisen from a dimensionless point. The theory was seized upon as evidence of God’s creation of matter out of nothing. Today the overwhelming majority of cosmologists (Hawking included, as Pappademos indicates) neither view the universe as having been created from nothing (that is, from a dimensionless point), nor question the legitimacy of asking what previous form of matter the Big Bang arose from.

Erwin Marquit
Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Minnesota
Minneapolis MN

History shaping events

Despite the news world’s obsession with Hamas, Iraq and nukes in Iran, I look to what is happening in South America and Venezuela as some of the most important and history shaping events in my lifetime. I want to thank you for Jose Cruz’s positive and informative story (PWW 2/4-10) and absolutely appreciate that members of the press are there to record and report Chavez’s words.

Thomas Olufs
Via e-mail

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