Saturday, May 31, 2008

Navel Gazing Tourism

I flip channels on my satellite TV and find lots of ads promoting folks to visit Ontario, not just on Ontario channels. I see ads promoting tourist to visit Newfoundland and Labrador, again broadcast across Canada. But Alberta, well once again the mentality of the One Party State is reflected in Travel Alberta campaigns.

That is they market not to Canada or the U.S. but within Alberta. Their latest campaign is to tell Albertans to stay home. And to our neighbours east and west of us, to come visit Alberta and when they do stay longer. Of course all these folks are not really visiting Alberta they are coming here for jobs.

Especially now that Alberta and B.C. have created a free trade market in labour; TILMA. And most of our so called tourism is oil business related, not the usual mom pop and the kids coming for a visit rather it is conventions and business related travel

Tourism in Canada is in a crisis and in Alberta it has been for years, due to the short sighted ideology of promoting Alberta to Albertans rather than to Americans or other Canadians.

Statistics Canada reported Tuesday that American visitation was down 14.8 per cent in March 2008 compared with the same month a year ago.

In fact, they hit a record low for the fifth consecutive month.

In March, foreign visitors made 2.3 million trips to the country, which is the lowest since record keeping started in 1972.

Overall visits were down 12.4 per cent in March 2008 compared with March 2007, Statistics Canada reported.

Worse yet Alberta has the highest costs for Skiing of anywhere in North America, go figure. Now that's sure not to help encourage folks to visit here.

Alberta is one of the most expensive places in the world to ski, says a comparison of ski passes from around the world.

Alberta's Ski Big 3 Pass that covers the Sunshine, Lake Louise and Mount Norquay resorts around Banff costs about $485 US for six days of skiing, ranking it second behind Vail, Colorado's peak season six-day pass at $552 US, said the World Lift Ticket Price Report.

And where do Albertan's go on vacation? Why B.C. of course because prices are cheaper.

B.C. remains one of Alberta's top choices for recreation property, says Rudy Nielsen, president of Landcor Data Corp.

Landcor collects statistics on real estate sales in B.C. and found Albertans accounted for 67 per cent of out-of-province "secondary property buyers" in B.C. in 2007, generating nearly $2.2 billion in sales.

"Albertans love B.C. because we have so many recreational uses, with good golf courses, good fishing -- you can still go to the Queen Charlottes and catch a 30-pound salmon, and we have the ski hills," says Nielsen.

"And of course, there's the beauty."

Even during economic downturns, interest from Alberta remains strong in B.C.

"We've had no indication of any slowdown of Albertans buying in B.C.," says Nielsen, who is also president of NIHO Land & Cattle Co.

And no amount of Vacation in Alberta propaganda will change that fact. So when will Tourism Alberta start advertising to non-Albertans? Well considering they haven't done much in the past two decades since the Calgary Olympics, don't hold your breathe. Until they do we will only get visits from the Accidental Tourist.



Jasper National Park Centennial

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Support War Resisters

Canada has a tradition of welcoming American Draft Dodgers and War Resisters now that is being challenged by the Harper Government and its courts.

Canada to deport first US deserter of Iraq war

War Resisters: Canada Turns Back on Trudeau Legacy

But there is good news, the NDP have brought a motion in the house to allow Iraqi War Resisters to stay in Canada.


To members of Save U.S. Soldier Corey Glass - Keep Him in Canada!

Breaking News: Parliament Debates Motion to Allow Iraq War Resisters
to Stay

On May 29th, following a motion put forward by NDP MP Olivia Chow,
Parliament began debating a motion in support of Iraq war resisters.

The debate lasted for 3 hours with all three opposition parties
speaking strongly in favour of the motion.

The Tories tried to derail the motion by procedural means but their
attempt was defeated by a vote of 121-97.


With the debate now completed, a vote on the motion will take place
on Monday, June 2nd.

Call and email Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley
phone 613.996.4974
fax 613.996.9749
email and

Tell her you want her to
• rescind the deportation order against US war resister Corey Glass
• support US war resisters, not Bush's war in Iraq
• support the motion to allow Iraq war resisters to remain in Canada

Call and email Prime Minister Stephen Harper!
phone 613.992.4211
fax 613.941.6900

Tell him you want the Government of Canada to
• rescind the deportation order against US war resister Corey Glass
• support US war resisters, not Bush's war in Iraq
• support the motion to allow Iraq war resisters to remain in Canada

Call Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion at 613.996.6740 or 613.996.5789

Tell him you want the Liberal Party...
• to support the Parliamentary motion to allow Iraq War resisters to
remain in Canada,
• to oppose the deportation of people of conscience who have resisted
an illegal war, and
• to support the will of the Canadian people, not Stephen Harper’s
decision to deport war resisters, and not the U.S.’s war agenda.

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Sexism Duffy Style

On Mike Duffy Live yesterday the issue of Maxime Bernier's jilted girlfriend was the big story. No news there, however he had a woman reporter on from Le Devoir; Helene Buzzetti, who exposed the fact that Julie Coulliard former boyfriend, who was part of her biker past, was trying to get contracts with a provincial government justice department. Now thats news.

According to the opposition Parti Québécois, a firm whose principals once included a former boyfriend of Couillard's won a $158,000 government contract last year to escort detainees from Quebec's jails to outside medical and dental appointments.

The problem is that Robert Pépin, Couillard's former flame and the key figure behind Agence d'investigation et de sécurité D.R.P., was a convicted felon who owed six-figure debts to a loan shark with direct ties to the Hells Angels and to a member of another well-known Montreal criminal gang.

So what does Duff ask her about, well to comment on Couillard's interview with the French language journal; Seven Days; 7 Jours,which focuses on her personal pain at being jilted by Maxime. 7 Jours is a fluff journal published by Quebecor, the owners of the Sun chain of papers.

Does he ask the Le Devoir reporter about the real news breaking in Quebec about how Couillard lied about her being a Real Estate agent, or about her biker boyfriend attempts to gain government contracts, or about what Maxime knew about her past?

'Maxime knew' of biker ties, Couillard says

Nope he asks her to respond to the pain Couillard suffered over being jilted he read sections of the Seven Day's interview, all mush and gush, with nary a political implication, all about her bosom being exposed, and her belief she was seen as a tart in the English press, because her photo was national news.

Not satisfied he goes on at the end of the program to interview two more female reporters about Le Affair Couillard, and again nothing of political import, rather he again asks them to talk about the Seven Days interview and her bosom.

Maxime Bernier and Julie Couillard arrive at Rideau Hall last August for his swearing in as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Maxime Bernier and Julie Couillard arrive at Rideau Hall last August for his swearing in as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (PAUL CHIASSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Is it me or do I detect an attempt here to avoid the real issue, that Julie Couillard who has biker connections held onto secret government documents for a month, in favour of salacious fawning over her bosom.

For Duff it was as if nothing political happened rather this was a news feature worthy of Women's Wear Daily. And he demeaned his female colleagues by his focus on the Seven Days article, avoiding the more important political implications of this sordid affair. Had they been male reporters he would not have asked them to comment on Couillard's personal feelings, but rather he would have asked them about the political impact of the Bernier affair in Quebec. It was as if we had gone back to the days when women reporters were relegated to the social and fashion pages of the newspapers where they worked.

And on a different note, the Duff used to be accused by the Blogging Tories and their ilk of being a shill for the Liberals. The more I watch the Duff the more I believe he is simply acting as a Government Mouth Piece. His focus on the personal trauma of Couillard reinforces the governments claim that this is all about a personal affair which is none of the publics business.

His fawning interview with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty further proves it; Duffy=Shill for the Government.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fire Your Boss

I was traveling on the bus down Whyte Ave today and saw a fellow with a hat which had written on it;

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I regretted I was not wearing my wobbly button in response;

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Palm Sunday April Fools Day

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 1968

Forty years ago this month the world changed with students and workers taking to the streets of Paris to call for revolution. Capitalism was at the height of its post war boom yet these folks were calling for its overthrow. A conference was held this month in England to celebrate 1968 And All That.



Forty Years Ago

40 Years Later; The Society of the Spectacle

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Eco Socialism

I love the pretense behind this meeting announcement. As if eco-socialism, social ecology or even feminist ecology were NEW only to be recently discovered by the Left in Toronto.

'red' movements that seek to free labor and bring down capitalism, and the
'green' movements that seek to mend our relationship with nature. Activists
from 13 countries met in Paris October 7-8 to discuss this perspective.

They founded the Ecosocialist International Network, and called
for a global ecosocialist conference, to be held in conjunction with the
next World Social Forum.

Speaker: IAN ANGUS

Ian is a member of the Steering Committee of the Ecosocialist International
Network, and the editor of the web journal Climate and Capitalism. He will
discuss what happened in Paris and provide an overview of the state of
ecosocialism today: as a goal, as a body of ideas, and as a movement
against capitalist ecocide.

Sponsored by: Socialist Project, International Socialists, New Socialist
Group, and Socialist Voice.

Seems to me they missed the notice that Murray Bookchin revived libertarian socialist environmentalism known as social ecology, over forty years ago. Of course being Trot's they probably didn't read his Listen, Marxist! either.

The journal Capitalism Nature, Socialism has been around for about thirty years. . Get a sub.

Monthly Review Editor John Bellamy Foster has long promoted a Marxist view of ecology and environmentalism. Get a sub.

Missed the big meeting announcing the founding of the German Red Greens led by old Sixties activist
Rudi Dutschke and Daniel Cohn Bendit over two decades ago did we.

As happened elsewhere in the world, most of the 1968ers ultimately joined the mainstream, with a number of 1960s activists -- including Rudi Dutschke -- later paving the way to found the Green Party. Dutschke himself was to be a key figure in the party, but he died shortly before its official creation in 1980. Some of them, most famously Joschka Fischer, became ministers in the German government led by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

Skipped reading Adrienne Rich on feminist ecology/green feminism because she was only taught in Womens Studies, did we.

Missed the work done by syndicalist feminist eco activist Judi Bari did we. She who split with Earth First! over its tactics that endangered lumber workers rather than getting them onside with eco activists.

And clearly these folks need to read my blog.

And while they jump on the eco-environmental-green bandwagon, they do so without addressing the contradictions current in the ecology/environmental/green movement, that places more emphasis on consumers and morality then on understanding that environmental degradation is essential for capitalism to function.

Here are some contemporary articles that they would do well to read as well.

The Modern World-System as environmental history?
Ecology and the rise of capitalism

University of California, Berkeley


This article considers the emergence of world environmental history as a
rapidly growing but undertheorized research ¢eld. Taking as its central problematic the gap between the fertile theorizations of environmentally-oriented social scientists and the empirically rich studies of world environmental historians, the article argues for a synthesis of theory and history in the study of longue duree socio-ecological change.

This argument proceeds in three steps. First, I o¡er an ecological reading of Immanuel Wallerstein’s The ModernWorld-System.Wallerstein’s handling of the ecological dimensions of the transition from feudalism to capitalism is suggestive of a new approach to world environmental history. Second, I contend that Wallerstein’s theoretical insights may be e¡ectively complemented by drawing on Marxist notions of value and above all the concept of ‘‘metabolic rift,’’ which emphasize the importance of productive processes and regional divisions of labor within the modern world-system.

Finally, I develop these theoretical discussions in a short environmental history of the two great ‘‘commodity frontiers’’ of early capitalism the sugar plantation and the silver mining complex.

Animals, Agency, and Class: Writing the History of Animals from Below

This essay is an historical exploration of the nexus between
animals, agency, and class. More significantly, it seeks
to place the agency of horses, cows, sheep, pigs, etc. into the
process of historical writing. This essay is divided into three
sections. The first is a critique of the current state of the historiography
of animal-studies. The second, ‘A Product of an
Unspoken Negotiation,’ considers how animals themselves
have shaped their own lives and labors. The third, ‘The Evolution
of Vegetarianism and Animal-Rights,’ explores how a
class relationship developed between humans and other animals.
Moreover, this section demonstrates how this solidarity
then led to the creation of social change.

Kate Soper:
Beyond Consumerism: Self-Interest, Pleasure and Sustainable
Responses to climate change and ecological attrition seldom say much about the downsides of the consumerist lifestyle nor promote the pleasures and fulfilments of a less work-driven and acquisitive life-style. This is hardly surprising given the dominance of global capitalism and the scale of its advertising budgets. But there are signs that the tensions between economic growth and human and environmental well-being will not be indefinitely contained. The negative impacts of affluence are a growing political concern and a source of disenchantment on the part of consumers themselves. In this context, the article seeks to counter the suppression of other visions of the ‘good life’ and presents the attractions of a post-consumerist life-style as of critical importance in winning wider support for a sustainable future.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bedtime Reading

NATO reports as bed time reading, post-coital pillow chat about troop placements, its all too much and led to the inevitable fall from grace for Maxime Bernier yesterday. That his now 'ex' girlfriends apartment might have been bugged might be another reason for the PM to finally fire Bernier who seems to have confused libertarian and libertine.

On becoming listed as Mr. Bernier's official partner after dating him for one month:

"He said I should reflect on it because he is a public personality, so he can't be changing his partner like you'd change a shirt. He said it was a mandate of at least one year."

Yep that's the Minister of Outsourcing before he became Minister of Foot In the Mouth. Even his girlfriend was on contract.

Meanwhile the PM continues to defend his Ministers right to date a girl who used to go out with Hells Angel bosses, another reason for the bug in her apartment? Not unlike the NHL which defends players who have cousins in the Angels. After all its a private affair nez pas?

The whole sordid affair arose from the fact that Bernier should never have been promoted to Foreign Affairs, a position that left him with his foot firmly placed in his mouth on one too many occasions.

After all he was only a finger puppet for the PMO which is where foreign policy is actually made.

The delicious irony in all this is not only was Bernier hopelessly incompetent in this post, but that the Law and Order Government insists that his personal affair with a biker chick was nobodies business. Bikers, crime, law and order.

Say good night Max.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Buzz Off

In the true tradition of business unionism Canadian Autoworkers President Buzz Hargrove sold his members out for a bowl of pottage. Despite his pseudo-socialist bluster, which was really ghost written by Sam Gidden, and his so called political activist unionism, in the end like all other union bosses he sold out his workers for a contract today.

It makes one wonder why we need unions. Well actually the bosses need them more than the workers do, since they are used to curtail authentic class struggle, and to mediate on behalf of 'variable labour' with the owners of capital.

The recent record breaking settlement with the Big 3 auto companies was a sell out by Buzz as he prepares to retire.

In the latest round of talks, Mr. Hargrove managed to negotiate what is effectively a wage and benefits freeze.

While denouncing two tiered wage settlements agreed to by UAW and the Big 3 south of the border, Buzz agreed to a made in Canada two tier wage structure no different than those he was denouncing.

Economic provisions of the deals mirror those of the CAW's deal with Ford Motor Co., which was cemented May 4. New hires will be paid 70% of base wages during the first three years of employment before climbing into the full wage scale. The deal cuts a week's vacation in return for 3,500 Canadian dollar (US$3,485) one-time payments and increases to drug co-payments.

The sell out of principles began when Buzz and CAW agreed to a no strike deal with Magna.

The Magna-CAW deal struck last fall between Mr. Stronach and Mr. Hargrove is a good start: In return for a no-strike clause from the union, Magna agreed to stop resisting unionization.

He has now followed it up with a sweet heart deal with the Big 3 selling out autoworkers by tying them into a contract that does not assure them job security, but rather see's further lay offs and plant closures with a payout to the survivors.

The auto industry is bleeding and all Buzz got was a band aid, and he admitted it.

Major economic clauses for all three companies

Wage freeze for three years.

Elimination of cost-of-living adjustment until 2009.

Employee co-payments of 10 per cent on prescription drug costs, amounting to $250 in the first year and growing slightly in the next two years.

Newly hired employees receive 70 per cent of full wages and take three years to get to full level, compared to previous provision of 85 per cent and two-year growth to full wages.

Surrender of 40 hours of holidays a year in return for a one-time payment of $3,500 in 2009.


Etobicoke casting plant in Toronto kept open for 2½ years instead of being closed next year. Company and union will look for buyer or joint venture partner for Chrysler.

Confirmation that next generation of Chrysler's large sedans will be built at Brampton, Ont., plant.

Minivan plant in Windsor, Ont., will maintain three shifts as long as market stays healthy. Shift at St. Louis plant to be cut before any shifts in Windsor.


New rear-wheel-drive car for Oshawa, Ont., to join Chevrolet Camaro.

Extension of Chevrolet Impala production at Oshawa plant to 2012.

New six-speed transmission for St. Catharines, Ont., pending government financial support.

New V8 engine for St. Catharines.

Retirement incentives up to $125,000 and a $35,000 vehicle voucher for workers at Windsor transmission plant, which will be closed in 2010.

Retention of second shift of workers at Oshawa Truck plant. Instead of layoffs, workers will go on two-week rotating shifts until September, 2009.


Adds new vehicle to Oakville, Ont., assembly plant beyond Ford Flex, which goes into production this year.

Extends life of St. Thomas, Ont., large-car assembly plant by three years from expected closing next year.

Autoworkers in Canada are marking time, as CAW rests on its laurels happy to have organized the Big 3 and now Magna. They have made little effort to take on the Japanese or Korean automakers in Canada who now outsell the Big 3.

Instead of organizing Toyota, Buzz cozied up to Toyota management and backed one of their VP's who was running for Liberal MP last election. Like his bargaining strategies his political strategy of strategic voting leads workers to a dead end.

It's a good thing he is finally retiring unfortunately while that will end the cult of personality in the CAW it will not end the entrenched bureaucracy of labour fakirs and pork choppers who dominate the organization.

CAW likes to claim to be a social union, a left leaning union, but it is in the end regardless of its ideological claims, a business union, structured to maintain capitalism.

As Marx pointed out years ago; Trade unions are not revolutionary organizations, but defense organizations of the working class. They call for a fair days wage instead of demanding the abolition of the wage system.

Trades Unions work well as centers of resistance against the encroachments of capital. They fail partially from an injudicious use of their power. The fail generally from limiting themselves to a guerilla war against the effects of the existing system, instead of simultaneously trying to change it, instead of using their organized forces as a lever for the final emancipation of the working class that is to say the ultimate abolition of the wages system.

Under the Fordist model of mass production and with the post War boom they became the hand maiden of capitalism, bargaining with the bosses to get crumbs off the table for their members.

They abandoned any pretense to being agents of social change, instead they became the cops on the shop floor, halting wildcats and job actions by workers. Building permanent corporate style organizations paid for by workers, and populated by professional permanent non-elected paid representatives, they have abandoned the revolutionary aims of workers self-organization; the control of the means of production, the take over and self management of factories by the workers themselves.

Instead they accept the day to day operations of capitalism as inevitable, not worth fighting over except to try and ameliorate its worse excesses, which keeps the bosses happy.

Workers since the beginning of capitalism have organized themselves, when unions were outlawed or banned, workers still created them and used them to strike against the bosses.

This self organization of workers is the dialectic of the conflict between labour and capital. When capitalism boomed it offered unions labour peace, a greater share of the pie, through out the sixties and seventies this was known as the social contract, and was reflected in a trilateral approach to State governance, the unions joined the politicians and capitalists at the table of civil society, determining how the welfare state would function.

Capitalism created the welfare state, in order to avoid a revolution at the end of WWII, and the labour leaders gleefully joined the bosses and their state glad to be accepted as equals. But they never were equals they were bought off, as the eighties and nineties proved when the bosses tore up the social contract and went on the offensive attacking union gains and calling for the privatization of the state.

The unions still slow to wake up, like the door mouse at Alice's Tea Party, thought this assault was an aberration, a few bad apples amongst their friends the bosses.
Instead it was a well planned and orchestrated assault on the State by capitalism which needed more capitals to expand, and saw public sector services as a waste of the that capital.

The class war had been declared when capital started calling for roll backs, give backs, started off shoring and contracting out, and creating two tiered wage structures. The unions gave up fighting back accepting Maggie Thatchers admonition that There Is No Alternative.

And we hear Maggie echoed in Buzz's departing deal with the Big 3.

The 64-year-old Mr. Hargrove described this year's set of talks as the toughest he has faced since he became president in 1992. He warned in an interview yesterday, however, that they will "look like a picnic" compared with what his successor will face in 2011 if Chrysler, Ford and GM continue to lose market share and are forced to continue slashing their Canadian and U.S. operations.

There is a solution to the problem, and it was shown by the Aluminum workers in Quebec, and by workers in Argentina, when capital abandons the factories the workers still make them run.

We can exist with out capitalism, with out hedge fund investments, workers self management of their factories, and of public services is the alternative. Unfortunately it is usually embraced after the fact, after capital has abandoned the factories and communities that surround those factories.

But it shows that workers can organize themselves to run things for themselves and for their communities, without capitalists.

It is the secret of capitalism, that without workers there is no capitalism, we create the beast which oppresses us. Our challenge is not to tame the beast but to end its existence by creating the conditions for real existing socialism.

For more critiques of the CAW deals see:

Bruce Allen Learning Some Lessons from Michigan's Auto Jobs Crisis
The evidence of manufacturing job loss on a massive scale in Ontario where the Canadian auto industry is concentrated is clear and undeniable. Nonetheless a question must be asked. Is it accurate to characterize what is taking place here as a “manufacturing crisis?” Or is it something else?

Sam Gindin The CAW and Panic Bargaining: Early Opening at the Big Three
In the face of a deteriorating economic climate and concerns about the ‘investment competitiveness’ of Canadian plants, the CAW leadership made a startling move this spring. It had an air of panic about it: the leadership quietly asked the Big Three – GM, Ford and Chrysler – to open their collective agreements early, offering a new ‘pragmatic’ settlement. ...

Sam Gindin Two-tier Wages, Second-Class Workers
When Autoworker President Buzz Hargrove makes new pronouncements, they carry weight within and beyond the labour movement – even when, as has recently been the case, they seem to undermine what Canadian unions have always stood for...

Herman Rosenfeld MAGNA IS NOT CAMI
In Bob White’s October 30th Op-Ed piece in the Toronto Star, the retired CAW president refers to the current Magna deal as a form of "innovation", comparing it to the 1980s fight against concessions and the formation of the new Canadian auto union...

Sam Gindin The CAW and Magna: What if Magna Builds an Assembly Plant?
In the discussions of the proposed Magna-CAW (Canadian Auto Workers) ‘Framework of Fairness’ deal, the focus has been on Magna as a components company. But what if Magna opened an assembly plant? Under the language of the ‘Framework of Fairness’, it too would be part of the deal...

SP Labour Committee Windsor Modules: The CAW-Magna Deal Delivers – Or Does it?
On November 7, 2007, the CAW made an historic announcement. The first collective agreement under the new CAW-Magna Framework of Fairness Agreement (FFA) was ratified at Windsor Modules, a plant of some 250 workers...


Alcan Proves Marx Right

Workers Control vs Corporate Welfare

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Don't Mourn Organize

The Greatest Wobbly folk singer and hobo since Joe Hill has taken the last train out of the station.

Bruce 'U' Utah Phillips has passed away late Friday night. We mourn his passing, a great Wobbly who kept wobbly culture alive through many a dark night when the organization was a mere memory of its past glory. By keeping our wobbly culture of song, and activism alive the spirit of the organization continued on inspiring a whole new generation of activists to become wobs.

As Joe Hill admonished his comrades on his passing; Don't Mourn boys, organize, the same holds true for our fallen comrade and wobbly hobo; Utah Phillips.

The IWW is strong and growing in no small part thanks to the dedication and perseverance of Utah.

U. Utah Phillips has passed away in his sleep at 11:30PM PDT on May 23, 2008.

Born Bruce Duncan Phillips on May 15, 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio, he was the son of labor organizers. Whether through this early influence or an early life that was not always tranquil or easy, by his twenties Phillips demonstrated a lifelong concern with the living conditions of working people. He was a proud member of the Industrial Workers of the World, popularly known as "the Wobblies," an organizational artifact of early twentieth-century labor struggles that has seen renewed interest and growth in membership in the last decade, not in small part due to his efforts to popularize it.

Phillips' other survivors include another son and a daughter, several stepchildren, brothers and sisters and a grandchild. The family requests memorial donations go to Hospitality House, a homeless shelter founded by Phillips in Grass Valley, Calif. Additional information is available at


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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Post War Socially Constructed Reality

Key to the social amnesia that occurred around the revolutionary potential of the proletariat after WWII is the social construction of the myth of the middle class. The dull boring fifties as popular history refers to it, was a utopian myth created by the beginnings of a post war boom in America.

It was anything but, with the Cold War, the homosexual and communist witch hunts, the rise of the UAW in the automobile industry and the unification of the CIO and AFL, the war in Korea, mass automation, etc. But by the end of the Fifties the neo-con ideologists who once had been leftists such as Daniel Bell could declare the End of Ideology, that is the end of class war and the end of the potential of Marxism to appeal to the American working class who now owned their own homes, had washing machines, cars, summer vacations.

It was a wonderful myth for in reality America still had poverty and lots of folks missing out on the post war boom as the black listed movie Salt of the Earth showed. Women had been forced out of the factories into the dull and monotonous career of being house wives. Segregation kept blacks and white workers separated through out America and not just in the south, but also in the factories of the north where they worked together.Mexican Americans like those depicted in Salt of the Earth, lived lives of brutal poverty not unlike folks during the Great Depression. But all this was white washed by the myth of the growing American Middle Class. A myth perpetrated by sociologists and other academics as well as the media.

Another myth that had to be created was that of the nuclear family, since the war had destroyed all social relations between the sexes and had opened up sexual opportunities with out the need for marriage. Sometimes war brides had several husbands, homosexual liaisons increased, sex for pleasure became an antidote to pending death, there could be no long term commitments given as those who left for the front might never come back. With the revelations about sexuality published by Kinsey and subsequent social turmoil created by sexual relations during the war, the post war planners saw the need to create the ideal family that returning G.I.'s would fit into, forgetting their real experiences of another kind of sexual relationship, one that was not forever and ever. One based on pleasure, however fleeting, not just for reproduction.

Increased production, automation, the creation of mass consumption, wide spread home ownership, increasing the access to higher education for G.I.'s, the creation of Ozzie and Harriet land, all this was planned in advance of the end of the war. As this amazing web site shows.

Those in charge of America were worried that the revolutionary and radical movements that emerged during the great depression and subsequently in resistance to fascism in Spain would re-emerge after WWII. Johnny had gotten his gun and was coming home, and the last thing the ruling class wanted was an armed proletariat with grievances unresolved from the depression. The creation of the house wife, that paradigm of virtue was the result of the need to move women out of the factories in order to avoid the crisis of post war unemployment that had led to the General Strike wave of 1919 following WWI.

During WWII the U.S. military created a special education program based on comics and propaganda pamphlets aimed at changing the consciousness of their draftees. To create the myth of American Democracy as we know it today, and to create the conditions for a post-war ideology of the Middle Class, the great mushy middle the happy worker consumer who was the 'American Citizen', no longer a 'proletarian' who could be appealed to by socialists, communists and labour activists.

They were pamphlets designed by Management to educate workers about their place in the world, not unlike the Team Work posters you see in your workplace today.

The whole modern management scheme of reification, which takes the socialist ideal of self management and transforms it into a management scheme to get us to work harder for less evolved from this ideological construct that occurred after this WWII experiment. It was the source of the Dimming school of ideology where Team Work Management was used to further enslave the working class through application of modern automation.

The new management strategies of getting us to participate in our own exploitation are well criticized by Kevin Carson.

And they originate in the ivory towers that created the North American post WWII world as this site reveals.

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Constructing a Postwar World: Background and Context

These pamphlets arose from impulses that are generally overlooked in the celebratory historiography of World War II. In a very real sense, the impetus for the pamphlets was fear—fear among military and civilian leaders that enlistees formed a potentially restless, dangerous, and uncontrollable group (particularly among those stationed overseas) who were likely to have difficulty adjusting back to civilian lives.

Social unrest among enlistees after World War I provided some cause for caution, but their concerns were substantially heightened and reinforced by new and extensive efforts to poll and test the mood and morale of the service men and women. Sociologists working for the Army found that servicemen were deeply ambivalent about the war, uneasy about their relationship with the civilian population, and deeply concerned about their lives after the war. In this respect, the emergence of the field of social psychology was critical, as it created new tools to measure morale and discontent in large groups of men and suggested new means of social manipulation.

The records of the Army’s Information and Education Division (IED) demonstrate that as early as the summer of 1943, military and civil leaders became concerned that after the conclusion of hostilities, the absence of common enemies and goals might unleash widespread social unrest. The definition of the problem and the resulting efforts at a solution were shaped by two important factors—the particular personality and background of the division’s commander, Frederick Osborn, and the emergence of social psychology as a discrete discipline with its own institutional imperatives.

As early as the summer of 1943, Osborn and others in the War Department were tying these issues together, and pointing to the need to ameliorate wide-scale social disruption after the war. They were particularly concerned about the period between the end of fighting and the moment when the servicemen could be shipped home. In a memorandum to the chief of personnel, Osborn noted the experience of the services after World War I, which “amply demonstrated that without an adequate substitute for military training, administered with vigor and conviction, cases of absence without leave, desertion, insubordination, petty misdemeanors, and even serious crises mounted week by week.” The solution offered by Osborn’s staff was a comprehensive program of nonmilitary training, recreational and athletic activities, and an educational program in which the G.I. Roundtable series would be a featured component.

In his first report on preparing for the postwar transition, to the Chief of the Personnel Branch, Osborn sets out four avenues for ameliorating potential negative behavior: a nonmilitary education program (a system of correspondence courses for high school and college credit), “information activities,” recreational activities, and an athletic program. Under information activities, Osborn sketches out a program of information, “derived from nonmilitary sources and prepared so far as possible by nonmilitary agencies,” on such issues as jobs; “local, state, and national problems which men will find confronting them as citizens with explanations of the historical, geographical, and economic backgrounds of these problems”; and “international problems facing the United States.” This sketch would form the basis for the G.I. Roundtable series.

However, as William Graebner has noted, similar programs were being developed in the civilian world in the same period. This notion had fairly deep roots, stretching back to notions of progressive education, which had gained credence at the end of the 19th-century and been further developed by progressive philosophers and social scientists like John Dewey.These ideas had a particularly strong advocate in Francis T. Spaulding, chief of the Education Branch, and another civilian pressed into temporary service for the war. Spaulding joined the division from a post as dean of education at Harvard to accept a temporary commission as colonel for the duration of the war.[21] In articles and a variety of consultant’s reports, he had been actively promoting these ideals of democratic education, noting in one article that
the conventional school teaches history out of books, and civics also out of books. As a result, its graduates know a good many of the facts of American history and something of about the machinery of national government, and perhaps recognize their rights as American citizens to freedom of speech and of assembly and of the press. But most of these pupils, as studies of representative schools have shown, have no clear realization of the social and political problems to be found in their own local communities; few of them know how to go about the task of being active citizens in their own right; only a minority are willing even to say that they would do certain things necessary to make democracy actually work, in situations where the task of making democracy work involved some personal effort or self-denial.

Spaulding would bring these ideals of an engaged form of education into the military, and was quite active in advocating the “democratic” form of the discussion group as a necessary leisure-time activity.An important component in their thinking was a very similar program being conducted by the British military under the Army Bureau of Current Affairs (ABCA). Both Osborn and Spaulding had traveled to England and been noted that it was a deficiency that the U.S. military lacked a similar program.Osborn was particularly impressed with the way these were carefully structured to “guide” discussion into certain topic areas, and promote small group cohesion. While the discussion on how to establish a specific program comparable to ABCA is not recorded, in early September 1943 Spaulding approached the American Historical Association about producing the materials for these discussion groups.

At a disciplinary level, the contrast between the involvement of the history profession and that of social psychologists is quite instructive. While social psychologists were provided an abundance of resources to apply the tools of their discipline, the history profession was feeling largely excluded from the work of the war. The historical profession and particularly the leadership of the AHA were casting about for some way to support the war effort. Even before war was formally declared, the papers submitted for the AHA annual meeting in December 1940 were dominated by discussions of war, and the analogical evidence that could be brought to bear on the forthcoming conflict.The subsequent correspondence of the AHA’s executive director, Guy Stanton Ford, over the first two years of the war reflects a clear sense of frustration at the marginalization of the profession, which had enjoyed a prominent role in World War I

According to Spaulding, the criteria for selecting the AHA were largely based on the discipline’s pretensions to social scientific objectivity, which he praised as the profession’s “recognized disinterestedness and impartiality.” At the same time, the AHA had the added benefit of being free of the taint of being seen by Congress as a social science, noting that an earlier collaboration with the Social Science Research Council ran into heavy criticism because “Congress does not know the difference between socialist, social science, and social worker.

The War Department was quick to publicize the relationship, noting in a press release that, “With the birth of the voluntary group discussion forums and its rapid fire spread, the Army is undertaking to provide informational pamphlets presenting basic facts of special concern to the men as evidenced by their own choice of subjects.” In a rather fulsome review of the new program (which also fails to note the significance of the program to postwar planning), Fortune magazine expanded on this, stating,

The men who are behind the orientation program ...want above all, and with the greatest disinterestedness and democratic faith in the world, to make the American soldier conscious. They have no desire to give him political notions; they do want to give him a democratic-mindedness, a faith in what he is fighting for, equal to his pride of outfit and his physical courage. They do not ask him to take sides; they ask him to be aware of the fact that there are sides to be taken in the world, and that some principles can be as lethal as weapons.

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The authors initially commissioned to write the pamphlets tended to come from the same spheres, typically senior-level faculty and management in many of the same organizations. Among the domestically related pamphlets, for instance, Clifford Kirkpatrick, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, would author essays on war marriages and working wives. Francis Brown, assistant director at the American Council on Education, would write on G.I.’s returning to school. Grayson Kirk, professor of government at Columbia University, would draft a pamphlet on universal military training that was subsequently censored. Emerson Schmidt, deputy director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, would author a pamphlet on small businesses, and Thorsten Selden, professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, would author a pamphlet on the possibility of a postwar crime wave.

While both the Historical Services Board and military described their potential readers as “democratic citizens,” there was a fundamentally different way in which they each conceived of the term. The historians and social scientists serving as authors and on the board placed the accent on “democratic,” envisioning readers who would read and discuss these in a non-hierarchical setting, who would be improved simply in the process of learning, thinking, and discussing their subjects. For the military, the accent was always on the “citizen,” in the term. While democracy might serve as a cause and goal for the prosecution of the war, there was no intention of permitting free and full expression on these topics. From the first, the pamphlets were intended to provide the basis for guided discussions in which their role as citizens who had given up certain rights afforded by a democracy were to be clearly understood

As important as the ideological differences were, the convergence in the normative outlook of the board and the military, seems equally important. The pamphlets addressing postwar domestic issues all share the same underlying premise, holding up an ideal that was essentially white, heterosexual, and upper middle class. It is not surprising that the target audience is clearly enlisted men who were young, white, and male. To make the point explicit, the authors often use the device of injecting a Private (sometimes promoted to Sergeant) Pro and Private Con on different sides of an issue (in the pamphlet on war marriages, they are called Private Hasty and Private Wait). In every instance where this device is used, their differences are viewed by an omnipotent narrator as arising, at least in part, from ignorance of the “facts.”[44] But whatever the differences, the omnipotent narrator typically aligns with certain norms and ideals.

Figure 1: This image from the War Marriages pamphlet is fairly typical in depicting women as problems that men will have to deal with on their return.

Apart from their general exclusion as participants in the discussion, women are typically depicted in domestic, maternal, or sexualized roles. Given the largely male military audience, it’s hardly surprising that pamphlets treating the subject of women directly—Do You Want Your Wife to Work after the War? and Can Wartime Marriages Work?—present them in highly objectified terms, as a problem to be solved. However, throughout the pamphlets women are often depicted as disturbing domestic harmony—in a pamphlet on consumer credit, for instance, women are depicted as potential spendthrifts who threaten to plunge the family into debt (Figure 1). And despite the pro-and-con debate on whether working women should return to the home after the war, the pamphlets typically depict only male figures as workers, producers, and managers.

While the texts express a measure of ambivalence about the future role of women, the images in the pamphlets, prepared by military artists, are less ambivalent. In a wide variety of pamphlets, women are depicted in sexualized contexts ranging from the young Eskimo woman casting an appraising glance over three single G.I.’s (in a pamphlet encouraging young men to move to Alaska), or the bare-breasted women in a pamphlet on the Pacific Islands, and the happy mother of triplets in the pamphlet on working women.[45]

Equally striking in the pamphlets is the near total absence of people of color except in exoticized settings like the Pacific Islands. The only mentions of African Americans appear in the pamphlet on crime and in a picture of black sharecroppers in the pamphlet on farming.[46] In this the pamphlets reflect the characteristics and the attitudes of their audience, most of whom felt that African Americans needed no further benefits in the postwar world.

Middle-class economic roles are generally privileged throughout the pamphlets, as (typically men) are directed toward business or other forms of white-collar work, such as business and civil service careers. There are a few exceptions to this norm, including an entire pamphlet devoted to farming and a few asides in the pamphlet encouraging men to move to Alaska, where they could “use their hands.” However, even in pamphlets that don’t address a specific career, this orientation toward a middle-class norm recurs throughout the pamphlets. In the pamphlets on postwar housing and borrowing, for instance, the ideal is a single-family suburban home—a class ideal that is reinforced by images of white men in suit and tie pondering their future dwelling. And throughout, the pamphlets emphasize individual striving and economic achievement as key measures of success in the postwar world.

The pamphlets privilege a white upper-middle-class lifestyle throughout, and place a particular accent on the veterans returning to a golden future as consumers of a plethora of new goods. This has a particularly technological accent in the series, as pamphlets prepare them for purchases of new radios, televisions, cars, and even private planes.This image of technological opportunities reflects the culture of the time, as a review of the periodical literature reveals a profusion of stories of technological progress in support of the war effort, supported by advertising from war-related industries who plowed some of their war profits back into ads that promoted their own technological creations on behalf of the war effort.

The significant level of technological hubris is suggested most clearly in the pamphlet Will There Be a Plane in Every Garage? which cautions against expecting that the title proposal will come to pass, while nevertheless leaving open the possibility. The authors note that “until private planes can do everything that automobiles can do, and fly as well, they will not displace the automobile.”[55] This is reinforced visually with pictures of a father returning home from work in the family helicopter. The postwar world envisioned by the pamphlets offered not only near limitless possibilities for personal economic progress, but intimately tied the notion of personal progress to vast new levels of consumer opportunities made possible by technological progress.

Figure 2: This image from Will There Be a Postwar Crime Wave? reflects the tone of the pamphlet, which suggests the urban environment is an unhealthy place to be.

The pamphlets also privilege a middle-America view of the world, which is probably not surprising given that the staff of the project were all from the Midwest (with most coming from Minnesota).[56] In discussions of the lived environment of the postwar world, for instance, urban settings are represented almost exclusively as sites of danger and crime, which are juxtaposed with rural and “hometown” settings, which are depicted as places of opportunity and community.[57] In Is a Crime Wave Coming? the authors lay out the social science data on urban crime rates, but generally ignore issues of crime and disorder outside of the city. To reinforce the implications of the data, the pamphlet’s images are typically urban, dark, and intentionally disturbing, in a way that viscerally connects crime to the urban environment (see Figure 2). This is in sharp contrast to the pamphlet on hometown life, which is filled with idyllic images of small towns that are lighter aesthetically, and in tone and spirit. This reinforces a narrative that emphasizes optimism and the nurturing environment of small-town life, noting that, “Going home will not mean going back but going forward from wherever you and your community find yourselves when victory comes.”

Figure 3: This illustration from Can War Marriages Work? was the most frequently reproduced in the media coverage of the series.

The pamphlets finally began appearing in the fall of 1944. In early September, the War Department announced the publication of the G.I. Roundtable series, noting that they would begin to replace earlier discussion kits comprised of government- and privately produced materials.[61] The information in the release and related information in news reports makes it clear that these were intended as part of a larger effort to deal with domestic concerns about postwar readjustment of servicemen.The New York Times Magazine devoted five pages to the pamphlets, including a two-page spread showing the covers of all the completed pamphlets. The series received similar coverage from other media outlets nationwide.As Spaulding and Osborn had expected, the AHA’s role in the series provided exceptional cover for the Army, as the media coverage generally extolled the pamphlets’ objectivity in sum and detail.

However, some of the latent misogyny in the pamphlets did not pass by unnoticed. The Christian Science Monitor mocked the pamphlet Do You Want Your Wife to Work after the War? suggesting satirically that “its real purpose may be determined by revealing that one section of this subversive pamphlet actually deals with the need for assisting wives to wash and dry dishes. Can you imagine the effect on the boys overseas just as they are beginning to dream of returning home? Is the War Department trying to slow down demobilization?”The New York Herald and Boston Post offered similar critiques over the coming days. Nevertheless, the rest of the media coverage was exceptionally positive, and the shared insensitivity to the portrayal of women is reflected in the prevalent use of the demeaning up-skirt picture from the War Marriages pamphlet to illustrate stories about the series (Figure 3).

The Army continued to distribute the pamphlets in the quantities of 200,000 through 1946, and made additional copies available to civilians through the Government Printing Office. However, the intended uses of the series to guide and shape the thought of servicemen and women seemed to dissolve, even as the concerns about discontent among servicemen overseas quickly came to pass, as the Research Branch had predicted. Rather ironically, Osborn’s warnings about a sudden and dramatic exodus of personnel proved particularly true among the officers in his own division. The officers who had overseen the G.I. Roundtable project, from Osborn down to AHA liaison Major Goodrich, had departed for other positions within three months. This merely reflected the predicted agitation of servicemen overseas, who began to ask for a quick return.

Apparently in a last-ditch effort to revitalize the program, the lowly captain who had been left in charge of the program conducted another series of surveys of military bases on the West Coast to observe discussion groups of 20 to 100 people, and discuss the continuing use of the program. He found fairly extensive interest and readership for the pamphlets, but this often seemed to be as a relief of boredom, rather than a concerted programmatic effort to use them. The officers at the eight bases visited all said the pamphlets were being widely distributed aboard troopships returning from overseas and in the redistribution centers to which they were returning. The surveys demonstrated that they were popular as reading material, particularly those treating more controversial subjects. But the waning of the ideals that served to produce the pamphlets is evident in the workmanlike report that the captain produced. The language of guiding and shaping the men’s thoughts are completely absent from his lengthy report, noting that they will only “play a valuable role in keeping Army personnel well informed and personally interested in important current problems involving the nation’s best interests.”

In the end, the value of the pamphlet series is not in the actual effect it had, but in what it tells us about the times in which it was produced. The series was an abject failure in terms of the goals of those who initiated it—the evidence suggests that the pamphlets’ role in ameliorating social discontent was never accepted by those further down the chain of command, and they were never implemented on the local level with that goal in mind.

However, as a mirror on their times, the pamphlets illuminate a number of features in the war years that seem to have been lost in the historiography of the period. The notion that servicemen would pose a significant social problem in the postwar world seems largely unexplored in the current literature, which tends to treat postwar planning as either a foreign policy issue (in terms of constructing a postwar international order) or an economic issue (in terms of the supply of available jobs). At another level, the pamphlets highlight many of the cultural presuppositions that were taken for granted at the time. They provide useful evidence of efforts to envision a postwar world even as the military conflict was taking place, and offer some fresh evidence of the cultural representations of women and minorities at the time. They also highlight the early formation of a white-collar ideal and technological hubris that we tend to associate with the postwar world. As such, they open an interesting line of analysis about when the cultural forms of “the fifties” can be said to have started, and provide a suggestive opening to further inquiry into the culture of the period and the military’s role in shaping it.



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