Thursday, April 26, 2012

Canada’s Economic Collapse and Social Crisis

Canada’s Economic Collapse and Social Crisis

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

What are the Spending Priorities of the Government?
In the debate raging over increased costs of tuition in Quebec, increased debt loads of the federal and provincial governments, the need to reduce costs – impose “fiscal austerity” – and find “solutions” to these problems, very little context is given. As students fight back against increased fees, the counter argument simply states that people must pay for their education, that governments must reduce their deficits, and therefore, cuts in spending and increases in tuition are necessary, though undesirable. But how necessary are they? Where is the government putting its money?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Student Strikes

Student Strikes, Debt Domination, and Class War In Canada: Class War and the College Crisis Part 4

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

There is a process under way in Canada, led by the corporate and financial elite, and directed against the general population, the poor, and the young, intending to provide for the rich and powerful, to punish the poor and steal from the rest, to plunge into poverty, to repress, control, and dominate: this process is called ‘Class War’ and it’s waged by the super-rich against the supposedly superfluous rest. It’s objective is simple: to preserve, protect, and expand the control and domination of the wealthy over the majority.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Queer Anarchy

The state itself is a form of oppression.

In a modern-day context this may seem like a false statement, however it is quite true. The state oppresses and restrains us every day, keeping us back from our full potential through its laws and security apparatus that enforce the whims of the state. Yet, this is not only done on a physical and economic level, but is also done based on one’s sexuality and gender identity. Yet, to get a fuller understanding of how the state oppresses us based on sexuality or gender identity, it is first necessary to ask the question: What is the state?

The state can be defined in many ways; however there are several definitions that are accepted such as Max Weber’s definition that the state is “a human community that successfully claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” It can also be defined in a geographical sense using borders. However, at its heart, the state is made up of people. While these people may be of different genders or racial/ethnic groups and hold different positions in the state apparatus, they still make up the state itself. Merriam-Webster defines the state as “a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory.” This “politically organized body of people,” in a modern context, refers to what is called the federal government.

However, we must take a deeper look at Weber’s definition. He states in his definition that the state has a “monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force.” What does that say about the state, that it needs the use of physical force in order for its creation? It says that the state itself is inherently violent and that it needs the consistent use of force in order to maintain its validity, for without the use of force, the state will no longer exist. In this, there comes the realization that the concept of the state is in many ways forced down the throats of the individual and they are forced to accept it.

In the United States and Western nations in general, the federal government has the power to create laws and initiatives that may seem as if they are in the best interest of the public, but are in reality much more about continuing the power of the state.  In order to better understand this, one must look at the state not as some faceless entity, but rather as a gang of political elites and their financiers. The entire purpose of these political elite is to further their own power. One may be familiar with this in the examples that can be seen under the Bush and Obama administrations.

After 9/11 Bush used the tragedy as an excuse to further centralize power in the Executive Branch, but on a larger level to expand the power of the state, allowing for the state to intrude on the lives of private citizens and to begin the creation of the surveillance state that is so prevalent today. Obama furthered the power of the state when he signed the National Defense Authorization Act which allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens and argued that the President has the power to engage in extrajudicial assassinations of US citizens. Yet, while the state is biased towards expanding its own power, it must also be examined in the framework of sexuality and gender identity and how that plays into the role of oppressing others.

The state recognizes and validates the relations of heterosexual couples by allowing them to get married and giving with them a number of benefits. [1] The state has even gone so far as to define heterosexual marriage as the legal marriage, one only need to look at the Defense Of Marriage Act (which is still in effect) to see this. This oppresses queer people in a legalistic and psychological sense. Queers are oppressed psychologically as not only are they viewed in a negative manner and ostracized on a regular basis and by not allowing queer marriage (this also includes polyamorous relationships), it only serves to reinforce the notion that they are underprivileged citizens and alienates them from the larger society.

There are also large amounts of economic oppression in the form of wage gaps and hiring discrimination. Currently, it is legal in 29 states to fire an employee based on sexual orientation and the number increases to 34 if they are transgender. [2] While there is a law that aims to end this so far nothing has been put into place and actually the situation is getting worse. A 1995 study revealed that “between 16% and 46% of [lesbian, gay, or bisexual people surveyed] reported having experienced some form of discrimination in employment (in hiring, promotion, firing, or harassment).” [3] Today the situation has little changed. [4]

This has a major negative impact on queers on both an individual and group level as their earnings are lower than a heterosexual person’s would be, thus contributing to them being more likely to be poor, especially if they are same sex couples. [5] In the state now enacting legislation to deal with this problem, they are, at most, engaging in oppressing queers, or, at least, acting as an accessory to their oppression.
The state is further oppressing queers in the form of voter suppression, especially transgendered individuals.

Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin have all passed laws requiring voters to present a government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot. But the laws impose unique barriers on transgender individuals, since many do not have an updated identification — such as a driver’s license — that lists their correct gender. [6]

This would deter queer individuals from making attempts to end their oppression in a manner consistent with the current status quo, that of legalistic reform than actual radical change.  

Yet, this oppression by the state is not only in the West but can be seen all over in the world. In the African country of Uganda, there was originally a bill bought up in Parliament that argued that anyone who was caught engaging in homosexual activity should receive the death penalty. While this particular part of the bill was retracted, the bill still generally criminalized the “promotion” of homosexuality. In the country of Indonesia, an LGBT rights advocacy website was banned, with the government deeming it “pornographic.” [7] Even the much-touted Europe isn’t safe for all members of the queer community as 17 European countries force transgender sterilization. [8]

Throughout the world, members of the queer community are actively under attack by the state. The state has always betrayed us and continues to be a source of oppression for the queer community. We need to realize that while it seems that the oppression may end with the passing of same sex marriage or the criminalization of discriminatory practices against queers, it will only be a first step in a battle against the state. The oppression could still take different forms, such as institutionalizing discrimination. The only way we may every truly be free is with the destruction of the state.


1: Nolo, Marriage and Rights Benefits,
2: Human Rights Campaign, Pass ENDA Now End Workplace Discrimination,
3: M. V. Lee Badgett, “The Wage Effects of Sexual Orientation Discrimination,” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 48 (July 1995): 728
4: Crosby Burns, Jeff Krehely, “Gay and Transgender People Face High Rates of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment,” Center for American Progress, June 2, 2011 (
5: Lauren Keiper, “Children of gay families more like to be poor: study,” Reuters, October 25,
2011 (
6: Eric W. Dolan, “Voter ID laws could disenfranchise more than 25,000 transgender voters: study,” Raw Story, April 15, 2012 (
7: International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, IGLHRC Website Banned, (February 7, 2012)
8: Nicole Pasulka, “17 European Countries Force Transgender Sterilization,” Mother Jones, February 16, 2012 (

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Class War and the College Crisis, Part 3

Of Prophets, Power, and the Purpose of Intellectuals: Class War and the College Crisis, Part 3
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

Intellectual history is written by intellectuals and educational history is written by educators; thus, it would be inevitable that the flaws and failures of each are buried beneath, while the advances and accomplishments are exaggerated or over-estimated. There is, however, a seemingly consistent dichotomy which has evolved and persisted throughout intellectual and educational history: on the one hand, you have the much larger element – both in terms of the general purpose of education and in the general activities and ideas of intellectuals – who support and strengthen institutionalized power structures; on the other hand – much more a break from the 'traditional' impetus and activities of education and intellectuals – you have the smaller element, the off-shoots and oddities, which empowers the masses against institutionalized power, and with the intellectuals who speak out, articulate, mobilize, and justify the empowering of the people against that of the dominant structures of society. Therein lies the dichotomy: one form of education is for social control and domination, the other is for social uplift and rejuvenation; one type of intellectual is a programmatic priest for the proselytization of power, the other is an energetic and empowering enemy of entrenched elites.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Syrian Peace Plan Is A Joke

Currently in the news, there is much talk of how the UN-Arab League sponsored peace plan is falling apart. Most recently, there is the discussion of how Syrian troops fired rounds across the Turkish border. Yet, the peace plan is not meant to stop the violence, rather it is meant as a ploy to demonize the Assad government even further and to push for intervention.

The text of the peace plan is made up of six points that call on the Syrian government to

(1) commit to work with the Envoy in an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people, and, to this end, commit to appoint an empowered interlocutor when invited to do so by the Envoy.

(2) commit to stop the fighting and achieve urgently an effective United Nations-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians and stabilize the country.

(3) ensure timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and to this end, as immediate steps, to accept and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause and to coordinate exact time and modalities of the daily pause through an efficient mechanism, including at local level;

(4) intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons, including especially vulnerable categories of persons, and persons involved in peaceful political activities, provide without delay through appropriate channels a list of all places in which such persons are being detained, immediately begin organizing access to such locations and through appropriate channels respond promptly to all written requests for information, access or release regarding such persons;

(5) ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists and a non-discriminatory visa policy for them;

(6) respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed. [1]

The entire plan puts the emphasis for solving the conflict on the Assad government, ignoring the fact that there is an armed opposition that also needs to put down its weapons and come to the table. The most the plan mentions about the opposition is that “Similar commitments would be sought by the Envoy from the opposition and all relevant elements to stop the fighting.” Nowhere does it explicitly state that the opposition itself must stop fighting. Despite this major flaw in the plan, the Al Assad government agreed to implement it, however, they wanted the same commitments from the opposition as well.

This is a major problem for the West and its Middle Eastern puppets as they are arming and financing the Syrian opposition in a bid to overthrow Al Assad. This can be seen by the fact that there were recently 13 French officers captured by the Syrian military [2] (see this and this as well). Thus, the West doesn’t the armed opposition to have to obey the UN peace plan as it would hinder their goal of overthrowing Al Assad.

After the Al Assad government agreed to the peace plan, there were still clashes against opposition forces, thus leading the Syrian government to demand there be written guarantees from the opposition to stop fighting. However, this was rejected by the Free Syrian Army, with their leader saying that they “[do] not recognize the regime ‘and for that reason we will not give guarantees.’” However, he still argued that “the government should withdraw its forces to bases and remove checkpoints from streets.” [3] This is quite hypocritical as a ceasefire it a two way street, if one side puts down their arms, than the other side must reciprocate or there can be no ceasefire. Yet, this is where the shaping of the peace plan comes in, the onus is put on the Al Assad government to stop fighting, however, it doesn’t force the opposition to do the same, rather it allows for the opposition to continue with its violent acts. By doing this, it is forcing the Al Assad government to break the peace plan, thus demonizing them and creating a situation that allows for the West and its allies to continue their support for the Syrian opposition.

Yet, in looking at the peace plan, one must also look at who wrote it: Kofi Annan. Annan, currently the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, is part of the imperial apparatus as he was a part of the Ford Foundation, which has deep connections to the CIA. [4] In his September 20, 1999 speech as the UN Secretary General, using Bosnia and Rwanda as examples, argued that in those cases “the States had failed in their duty to protect their own people. He therefore concluded that the sovereignty of States, guiding principle of the UN Charter, constitutes an obstacle to human rights protection.” [5] (emphasis added) Thus, he started the basis of what would become known as ‘Responsibility to Protect,’ a doctrine which has been used by the West to intervene in countries in order to overthrow regimes that refuse to bow down to them.

More recently, there has been talk of the incident where Syrian soldiers fired at people across the Syrian-Turkish border resulting in the death of a cameraman and five people being wounded. However, what is being ignored is the fact that the Syrian soldiers may have been firing at rebels. NPR states that “The Syrian soldiers were believed to be firing at rebels who tried to escape to the refugee camp after ambushing a military checkpoint, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing a network of sources on the ground.” [6] One must also realize the role Turkey has played in the Syrian conflict. They have sent officers into Syria. In February, it was reported that “more than 40 Turkish intelligence officers were captured by the Syrian army.” [7] In addition to this, they have in the past made threats that they were going to intervene in Syria. [8] Thus Turkey itself is supporting the Syrian opposition and cannot be trusted.

The peace plan is nothing but a joke meant to force the Al Assad government to break the plan, thus allowing for the West and its allies, specifically Turkey, to intervene in Syria and create a puppet regime. This will only aid in the efforts to hurt Iran as Syria is Iran’s main regional ally and if Syria collapses, Iran will truly be isolated. This attempt at ‘peace,’ is truly an attempt at war.


Monday, April 9, 2012

The Purpose of Education: Social Uplift or Social Control?

The Purpose of Education: Social Uplift or Social Control?

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

This is the second part of the series Class War. See Part 1 here.

In Part 1 of this series, I examined the elite assault on education – through the Chamber of Commerce, right-wing think tanks, and the Trilateral Commission – which arose in response to the massive social and political activist movements of the 1960s. The threat of popular democratic participation – that is, active and activist participation of the population in the decision-making process of a community or nation – was too much to bear. The fact that a significant degree of this activism had been mobilizing from the universities was enough reason for elites to declare a “crisis of democracy” and demand more apathy, complacency, and pacification from the population, more authority for themselves, and more control over the society as a whole. The result of this was neoliberalism – globally and locally – in government, the media, and the schools. The “Crisis of Democracy” was that there was too much of it. The solution, therefore, was to deconstruct democracy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Al Jazeera: From Media Power To Laughingstock

Al Jazeera. Many know it as a news station that has quality news coverage, especially with the Middle East, doing in-depth reporting and representing alternative views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which there is so much pro-Israel propaganda in the West. However, in recent weeks Al Jazeera has proven itself to be a biased news organization that is quickly moving from reputable source to laughingstock.

The decline of Al Jazeera initially started in March, when it was reported that Al Jazeera Arabic's Beirut correspondent, Ali Hashem, resigned “weeks after pro-Assad hackers leaked emails that revealed the dismay among Al Jazeera's staff over its ‘biased and unprofessional’ coverage of the Syrian uprising. [1] In an interview with The Real News, Hashem stated specifically what had bothered him:

One of those conversations was between me and one of the Arabic channel's presenters. And then we were just, you know, talking about the coverage and points regarding this coverage. We had some problems. You know. As for me, late in—before, in May, I had a problem with the channel when I—you know, we were on the borders with Syria and there were a lot of armed men, militants, tens of guns, and they were with weapons and just moving along the border from Lebanon to Syria.
At that time, you know, everyone was talking about the revolution in Syria, that it's peaceful revolution, it's not using arms. But, you know, what we saw, it was really interesting and kind of—if it was any other channel, this should be a breaking news, it should be a big story. But, actually, Al Jazeera, let me say, the policy and the channel itself, maybe the journalists inside, you know, they went back to, maybe, the owners, and then it was kind of—it's not allowed, and I was asked to go back to Beirut, and those footage weren't ever aired on Al Jazeera. (emphasis added) [2]

In addition to this, Al Jazeera refused to cover the uprising in Bahrain in which hundreds upon thousands of people were killed by the monarchy. How can a news organization boast of having excellent coverage, especially for a specific region, if they refuse to report important happenings?

Al Jazeera slipped further when the Syrian regime gained a hold of video that showed an Al Jazeera reporter before he was on air “and the demeanor is drastically different from the demeanor on the air and they even show contrived sounds of explosions timed for broadcast time” and the “staging of events of calling a civilian an ‘officer’ in the Syrian army, of faking injuries and feeding statements to people before airtime, etc.” Yet, the most damning evidence was the revelation that “Ahmad Ibrahim, who is in charge of the channel’s Syria coverage, is the brother of Anas al-Abdeh, a leading member of the opposition Syrian National Council.” [3] Thus, not only was Al Jazeera spouting lies and propaganda, but they had someone in charge of their Syrian coverage who would be at most completely biased in their reporting or, at the least, have a major conflict of interest.

Yet it has recently come to light that “Al Jazeera has supplied Syrian rebels with satellite communication tools to ensure telephone and Internet connection” and that they “paid $50,000 for smuggling phones and other tools across the Syrian border to ensure they would get an inside picture.” [4] Thus, not only were they spewing deceit, but they were also allowing the opposition to have access to communications. These phones, while used to aid Al Jazeera, could also potentially have been used to commit attacks against the Syrian military as well as civilians.

Al Jazeera has descended from media power to laughingstock.


Prison Project Update #2

The articles I’ve written so far (and will continue to write) have taken so long due to the amount of time it takes for me to properly research the information. While I have found that using Google Books has greatly helped, I realize that I may also need to access journals that can only be found on sites such as JSTOR as they contain valuable information that has been well-researched and can possibly lead me to other sources.

In researching the most recent article, I have found that I also will need to do some research and writing on the American public and their perceptions of prisons and how they have changed over time.  This will be quite important as the political elites, while they usually do what they please, will, with enough pressure from the public, make slight reforms to the system as to stem any discontent. It will be interesting to see who and what shapes the perception of prisons for the public and how their changing views affect the prison system.

However, that will be done a later date. For now, I will begin researching women’s prisons, specifically how they came about, the differences between male and female prisons, and the issue of how race played in a role in female prisons and how race affected female prisoners. This will lay the basis for later research when I get into the more modern era and discuss how it is increasingly women of color who are being incarcerated. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Class War and The College Crisis

The following is the first part of a series of articles, “Class War and the College Crisis.”

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

Today, we are witnessing an emerging massive global revolt, led primarily by the educated and unemployed youth of the world, against the institutionalized and established powers which seek to deprive them of a future worth living. In Chile over the past year, a massive student movement and strike has become a powerful force in the country against the increasingly privatized educational system (serving as a model for the rest of the world) with the support of the vast majority of the population; in Quebec, Canada, a student strike has brought hundreds of thousands of youth into the streets to protest against the doubling of tuition fees; students and others are on strike in Spain against austerity measures; protests led by or with heavy participation of the youth in the U.K., Greece, Portugal, France, and in the United States (such as with the Occupy Movement) are developing and growing, struggling against austerity measures, overt corruption by the capitalist class, and government collusion with bankers and corporations. Students and youth led the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt last year which led to the overthrow of the dictators which had ruled those nations for decades.