Ten years ago, when I lived in Cincinnati, I was the Socialist Party’s candidate in Ohio for the U.S. Senate. No, I didn’t win. I didn’t even get many votes, just 25,000. But who thought then that there were so many socialists in Ohio? At the time I believed running a propaganda campaign as a socialist was a worthwhile project. I still do — even though, because of the extraordinary conditions in our country, this year I’m voting for Biden.

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How did it come about that I ran as a socialist for the Senate? The Socialist Party and other “minor parties,” as they were called, had just won a lawsuit that argued that they had been unfairly excluded from the ballot. So the court lowered the bar and only a few hundred petition signatures were needed to qualify. …

For the first time in my life, in fifty years of voting in America, I am voting for a Democratic Party presidential candidate and urge others to do so as well. As an activist on the left, a writer on politics in various publications, and an editor of New Politics, I feel that I must publicly acknowledge that I have changed my position on this question and explain why I recently signed a letter advocating a vote for Joseph Biden.

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I became an activist in the 1960s in the movement against the U.S. war in Vietnam. Our enemy was the Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson which was carrying out the war. The reactionary Republican Party was of course beyond consideration. I cast my first presidential vote in California in 1968 for Eldridge Cleaver, the Black Panther leader who was the candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party, an attempt to give political expression to the two great social movements of that era: civil rights and opposition to war. Like many others at that time, I became convinced that the Republican and Democratic parties were both dominated by the capitalist class, both parties of racism at home and imperialism abroad. …

In my counter-historical novel Trotsky in Tijuana, being published on the anniversary of his assassination eighty years ago, I attempt to understand Trotsky the man and the political leader by projecting his life into a future he did not live to see.

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Eighty years ago, on August 20, 1940, Ramón Mercader, an agent of the Soviet Union’s secret police attacked Leon Trotsky, a leader of the Russian Revolution of October 1917, in his home in exile in Coyoacán, a suburb of Mexico City. Trotsky died the following day.

Why was Trotsky killed? Following the death of Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik Party and head of the government of the Soviet Union, there was a succession battle between several of the party’s leaders: Lev Kamenev, Georgi Zinoviev, Nikolai Bukharin, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky. Stalin divided his opponents, won the upper hand, and had Trotsky expelled from the Communist Party, then driven him from the Soviet Union, first to Turkey, then France, Norway, and finally to Mexico, where Stalin had him killed. Trotsky, then sixty years old — he was known as the Old Man — was martyred for his cause, the struggle against Stalin and the construction of a Fourth International as an alternative to the Socialist and Communist internationals. …

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I am a child of the atomic age. The atomic bomb, that is, the threat of nuclear war and mass destruction, has been in my consciousness — sometimes in the background but frequently in the foreground — nearly all of my life.

I was born on August 9, 1945 at the Lying Inn Hospital of the University of Chicago, the day that the second atomic bomb was dropped in Japan on the city of Nagasaki, killing tens of thousands of people. My birthplace, the U of C, was also the birthplace of the atomic bomb, which had been conceived there a couple of years before. Enrico Fermi and other scientists in the Manhattan Project carried out the first chain reaction on December 2, 1942 in a secret laboratory hidden in the university’s football stadium. …

Book Review: Branko Marcetic. Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden. New York: Verso, 2020.

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Branko Marcetic ends his book . Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden with this:

Democratic primary voters improbably hold the future of the country but potentially modern civilization in their hands. By July 2020, we’ll know if they learned from history.

From the author’s point of view, they didn’t. Rather than choosing the progressive Bernie Sanders, the voters chose Joseph Biden, the compromiser, the advocate of bipartisanship, an erstwhile liberal whose decades-long political career led him since the late 1970s to adopt a series of fundamentally conservative budget-balancing positions, to create racist welfare and crime programs, to ravage civil liberties, and to become an advocate of U.S. …

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This article was originally written for Viento Sur, a newspaper of the Left in the Spanish state.

A march came by my house in Brooklyn a few nights ago, a river of thousands of young people of all races, wearing masks because of the pandemic, walking together, shouting out the name of George Floyd, demanding justice. I saw history making its way through the city, the young people carrying the future on their shoulders. So it has been everywhere in America for more than a week. And still the protests continue and grow in size. …

This article was written for L’Anticapitaliste, the biweekly newspaper of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) of France.

In the midst of the worst pandemic in U.S. history and what may be a Second Great Depression worse than the first, President Donald J. Trump’s chief concern is reelection to the presidency in November. He is now using the coronavirus crisis and the economic collapse of the economy to rev up his campaign and rouse his base with a reopening of the economy that jeopardizes the health and the economic well being of millions. …

This article was written for L’Anticapitaliste, the biweekly newspaper of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) of France.

President Donald Trump is driving the United States toward complete loss of control of the coronavirus pandemic, a development that will lead to tens or even hundreds of thousands of deaths and further devastation of the economy. Today the United States has 1.3 million known cases and 78,763 official deaths while 40 million people or 24.9% of the workforce are unemployed. With Trump’s plan for reopening next month’s death toll will continue to rise and the economy could virtually collapse.

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Trump ended federal guidelines for dealing with the coronavirus such as social distancing and turned responsibility over to state governors, suggesting that they could reopen if their states meet certain preconditions, above all a decline in new cases. Already more than half of the states plan to lift many restrictions and begin reopening the economy, even though they do not meet the criteria. …

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Peter Dreier’s vicious attack on Bhaskar Sunkara in The Nation is an embarrassment to that publication. The Nation editors should be ashamed of having allowed Dreier to lambast the editor of Jacobin in such a venomous piece because Sunkara said he would vote for presidential candidate Howie Hawkins of the Green Party in New York, a “safe state” that will go overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party candidate for president.

In an outburst of bile Dreier wrote that, “Sunkara’s stance is self-indulgent — an individual act of virtue signaling rather than part of a collective movement for justice. …

Coronavirus and the Depression in America

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This article was written for L’Anticapitaliste, the biweekly newspaper of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) of France.

We in America live in what resembles some medieval fairy tale. An evil and maniacal king rules the plague stricken land. The wicked lords in the corrupt parliament rob the public coffers to enrich their cronies. The tribunes of the people, mostly venal and foolish, are alternately deceived or suborned by the King and the lords. Meanwhile many people are sick and many dying. The bodies pile up. The soothsayers blame it on the foreigners and plan pogroms. The mills have stopped; the inns and taverns have closed. Peasants rebel here and there but the plague prevents a general rebellion. …

About

Dan La Botz

Dan La Botz is a writer. His most recent book is Trotsky in Tijuana at trotskyintijuana.com

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