Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Soviet Revolution: Lessons for Californians by Matt Owen (Guest blogger)

July 18, 2019
As we celebrate the Centennial of the revolution which brought workers to power in Russia, let us take this opportunity to examine what, if any, lessons we in the California independence movement can apply to our struggle.

One lesson, drawn not only from the Russian Revolution, but from the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the revolutionary process underway in Venezuela, and many other instances, is that movements often end up quite different than when they first began. 

The American Revolution started out as a struggle by the English American colonies to regain the autonomy taken from them by the Crown, backed by a Tory Parliament: only after the British government refused this demand did those colonies unite and declare their independence from Britain (this demand was also the motive for the first Declaration of California Independence from Mexico, made in 1836, the same year Texas was annexed by the US: the Bear Flag Revolt, which resulted in "Anschluss" of California and the US, was a decade later, and led by US settlers).

The French Revolution, inspired by the above, resulted initially in a constitutional monarchy: the failure of the monarch to accept his reduced status set the events in motion which led to the Republic, the Thermidorian reaction, and ultimately the seizure of power by Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Russian Revolution originally overthrew the Tsar in order to end Russia's participation in the First World War: a succession of Provisional Governments failed to make peace with Germany, so the workers finally took matters into their own hands, as they had in 1905 to put an end to the Russo-Japanese War, and the All-Russian Congress of Soviets--the central organ of the Soviets, or workers' councils--was recognised as the government of Russia by the Military-Revolutionary Committees, or military Soviets.

Unfortunately, party after party in the Soviets turned against the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, leaving the Bolsheviks the only party standing in the Soviet government: the result of a very particular situation, as we shall see...

When Hugo Chavez first rose to power at the end of the 20th Century, he was combating the market-totalitarian type of capitalism known as neoliberalism: his MVR offered, and the Venezuelan people embraced, a new Constitution, that of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela: the reaction by the neoliberals and the class they represented necessitated a broadening of the target of the Bolivarian revolution from neoliberalism to capitalism as a whole: while a referendum on a new Constitution for a "Bolivarian Socialist Republic of Venezuela" failed, Chavez did succeed in launching Soviets...Consejos Comunales...in Venezuela, and they've been growing ever since.

Venezuela now finds itself in a struggle to convene a Constituent Assembly: this didn't go so well in Russia, but there, the Soviets were already in power, albeit tenuously--whereas in Venezuela, the struggle is to shift power to the Consejos Comunales and their Comunas.

In California, the election of Trump has resulted in the explosive growth in interest in independence from a United States increasing numbers of us are seeing as falling to fascism: less than 20% supported California independence from the US when Obama was president, whereas one-third of Californians support the idea today--at the same time that about as many Millennials favour socialism as do capitalism, and more people boycotted the 2016 US Presidential election than voted for either candidate!

A potentially explosive political mix: if the boycotters and socialists began to move to California, drawn by single-payer healthcare, a living wage, sanctuary from punitive, racist immigration policies and enforcement, and the like, that mix could explode at any moment--and a truly viable independence movement would be born!

The other lesson we can draw from the history of the Russian Revolution is this: the impossibility of socialism in one country, even one as vast as Russia.

Until Lenin, Marxists believed that socialism, understood as a revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat, was impossible in an overwhelmingly peasant country such as Russia: both Marx and Lenin, however, did think that a socialist revolution could start amongst the Russian working class--but that it must spread quickly to a more industrialised country (most likely Germany) if it was to retain its socialist character.

This is why the Bolsheviks used the ceasefire between themselves and the German Army to agitate German soldiers to join their revolution: don't shoot us, shoot your officers and join us! Unfortunately, the Germans continued to obey their officers, leaving the Russians no choice but to negotiate peace with their government: by the time the peace was inked, Russia had lost much territory to the Germans, and war broke out between the two remaining Soviet parties, the Bolsheviks and Social-Revolutionaries: rooted in the proletariat and peasantry, respectively, this was the opening salvo of a civil war which destroyed the Russian proletariat, leaving the Bolsheviks to lead a peasant country...

In Germany, however, events took turn after turn as the Germans faced their own defeat by the addition of US forces to their foes: Eugene V. Debs, the only antiwar socialist leader other than Lenin, was in jail, and within a year of defeating the Russians, it was the Germans' term to taste defeat. The armistice their enemies forced them to sign was as onerous as that they imposed on the Russians--and that, like the Russian defeat before it, set things in motion.

By 1919, the Kaiser was overthrown...and a Soviet Republic proclaimed from the balcony of the Kaiserpalast was opposed by the Social Democrats in the Reichstag: the Social Democrats put down the pro-Soviet uprising using demobilised soldiers reorganised into "Freikorps"...and for the next few years, they played "whack-a-mole," putting down Soviet uprisings up and down Germany, but not throughout the whole country simultaneously...

...Until 1923! In that year, the Reichsmark became worthless, and as a direct result Soviets sprang into being throughout Germany, and began arming themselves...

...However, the new Communist Party of Germany had just inked a "United Front" agreement with the Social Democrats: as happened in Russia, the forces used by the anti-Soviet government to crush the Soviets tried to overthrow it and new fascist forces were growing, especially the "German Workers' Party" after it came to be led by one Adolf Hitler, who imbued it with an ideology, "National Socialism," that is, violent nationalism with a socialist face.

Because of the United Front agreement with the Social Democrats, when they demanded that the Soviets disarm and dissolve, the Communists complied...

...But what if they hadn't? What if the German Communists did what their Russian comrades had done, and instead led a Soviet revolution in Germany? How differently history would have turned out had the Soviet Union grown to the Rhine, encompassing not only the peasantry of Russia, but the German proletariat!

This, I submit to you, is the juncture at which we once again find ourselves:

Venezuelan socialism is under siege at precisely the moment that its Soviets, its Consejos, now must walk through the door to power: if not, socialism will be crushed in Venezuela...

...Unless the 21st Century socialist revolution spreads to a country with a larger economy, more diversely developed than Venezuela, with about the same population...

A country poised to break free from the imperialist hegemon.

Our country. California.

Socialism isn't on the agenda "por ahora" but I predict that the struggle for our independence, like the antiwar struggle in Russia, and the antineoliberal struggle in Venezuela, will make socialism the order of the day.

When that happens, we revolutionary socialists must be organised to lead that fight: to that end I propose a California analogue of Venezuela's PSUV, a California Socialist Party, drawing on existing Socialist and Communist organisations.

¡Viva California libre, soberana, y independiente, con libertad, justicia y democracia de, por, y para el pueblo!

¡Viva la República Socialista de California!
Matt Owen and Cindy Sheehan protesting something somewhere.
Matt Owen is a Californio striving to make California a worker's paradise.

Cindy Sheehan at California Freedom Coalition Open House in Berkeley (July 23, 2017)

 CFC Open House in Berkeley
The California Freedom Coalition has been busy. We have been highlighted in the news and the initiative is very close to being approved by the state. We would like to invite you to an Open House in Berkeley. Well known peace activist, Cindy Sheehan will be in attendance. Please join the California Freedom Coalition (CFC) for a bite to eat and drinks (heavy hors d'oeuvres will be served). The CFC is a non-profit formed to restore Californian's voting rights. CFC Board Members, including well known peace activist Cindy Sheehan, will be speaking on the CFC's progress and answer any questions you might have. Please visit our website for more information about the CFC: calfreeco.org. Please register here: https://cfcopen-berk.eventbrite.com

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why the Russian Revolution Matters Today (SOAPBOX PODCAST JULY 16, 2017)

July 16, 2017

Guest: Luciana Bohne
Topic: The Russian Revolution and Why it Matters Today

This week, Cindy chats with professor Luciana Bohne about many fascinating topics:

Her early years in post-WWII Yugoslavia
The October Bolshevik Revolution in Russia
The Soviet Union and Why it Dissolved
Today's Neo-McCarthyism

Check out the Professors new article at Counterpunch:

Yemen: The War That Isn’t Happening Even as It’s Happening


For more information on the Great October Revolution

Check out the Series from the 

Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA

Great October Socialist Revolution Series 





Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cindy Sheehan: Sixty and Still Single-Minded

July 9, 2017

Dear Friends/Supporters of Cindy Sheehan and The Soapbox,

On July 10th, the single-minded campaigner for peace and social justice, our friend, Cindy Sheehan will turn 60 years old!

The past few years have been a struggle for Cindy: taking care of her sister Dede Miller and mourning her death, but Cindy has managed to keep the Soapbox (weekly podcast, blog and clearing house for leftwing thought/action) and her vision of a peaceful and equitable world for all, alive.

Currently, Cindy is on the board of directors for the California Freedom Coalition (working for California Independence from the USA); an original convener of the People's Congress of Resistance; member of Hands off Syria Coalition in SF Bay Area; member of the State Central Committee of the California Peace and Freedom Party; and host/executive producer of Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox. Cindy will also be a keynote speaker at a major anti-US Empire conference in Toronto and the state conference for the California National Party (For Cal Independence), both in August. Oh yeah, and she is "Gigi" to five amazing beings who inspire her to move her old bones every morning.

In 2006, Cindy published her 3rd book, Peace Mom: A Mother's Journey Through Heartache to Activism, (which was suppressed by the media--every major interview canceled the day after publication) which covered the first year after her historic protest as Camp Casey in Crawford Tx and today she is working on her EIGHTH book: Peace Mom II: A Mother's Journey from Activism to Heartache and Revolution. Peace Mom II will cover the subsequent years since 2006 and a draft of the foreword can be read HERE.

Cindy is obviously still single-minded in her struggle for peace and social justice, but we at Team Soapbox need your help.

Please consider making a donation to Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox in honor of the birth date of this dedicated worker for the international working-class.

Everyone who donates $30 or above will receive a signed copy of Peace Mom II upon completion (projected publishing date October 15).


For a tax deductible online donation click HERE

Enter: CindySheehansSoapbox@gmail.com 

Or send a check/money order to:

Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox, LLC
PO Box 6264
Vacaville, CA 95696 

In struggle and solidarity for a better world!

Team Soapbox 

Foreword: Peace Mom II: One Mother's Journey from Activism to Heartache to Revolution by Cindy Sheehan


Peace Mom II:
A Mother’s Journey through Activism to Heartache and Revolution

Cindy Sheehan


After my stint (not stunt) in Crawford, Tx in the summer of 2005, I figuratively went from “zero to eighty” in the space of 28 days.

My son Casey was killed in Iraq on April 04, 2004 and 16 months after that, I was toddling around the country trying to re-activate a mostly dormant anti-Iraq war movement. However, on August 5th of 2005, I had an idea to go confront then president George Bush at his vacation home (Flying Photo-op Fake Ranch) in Crawford to ask him for “What Noble Cause” was my son and tens of thousands of others dead.

As I recounted in the prequel to this book: Peace Mom: A Mother’s Journey Through Heartache to Activism (Atria Books, 2006), it became quite a zoo in little Crawford and the bored media (alternative and corporate) made me into an international cause célèbre and certainly a polarizing figure for those who supported George Bush and those who opposed him.

After Camp Casey was over that first crazy year, I was courted by a few book agents who wanted to rep me and sell a memoir. I remember meeting the venerable investigative reporter Seymour Hersch near the end of 2005 in Manhattan shortly after my book had been sold to a division of Simon and Schuster: Atria Books.

I felt the professorial looking Hersch was a very engaging and down to earth person who immediately told me that he thought it was too soon for me to publish a “memoir.” I explained to him that my reasoning was to be able to influence the 2006 Congressional mid-term elections so we could re-install Democrats in the majority (at least in the House) and have a chance to rid the world of the dangerous and odious Bush regime and to have a chance to end the wars. Seymour Hersch said, “then you should do it.”

Of course, when I look over the first Peace Mom (PM1 from now on), I get a little red-faced over my energetic optimism. I actually believed that if the Democrats, led by my soon to be nemesis Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca), regained power in the House of Representatives, that all of my dreams of peace and accountability would come true.

Now writing Peace Mom II (PM2) in the summer of 2017, twelve years after the summer of frenetic energy in Crawford Tx, I reflect that we are further from peace and justice than we were when I predicted that Bush would be impeached and the wars would end.

Since I wrote PM1, so many amazing, tragic, wonderful, frustrating, annoying, sad, hilarious, troubling, exhausting, draining, energizing and et cetera things have happened. PM1 was only the first year of my activist life—PM2 will cover the past 11 years and not as profoundly naive as PM1. My saving grace is that my naivete came from a good place with working towards good things for everyone on this planet not just USAians.

Some of the things that I will cover in this book:

The primary theme that comes to my mind when I think of my public life from 2007-today is the absolute treachery and betrayal of me and my movement by the Democrat Party. I will cover this is FAR more detail in the heart of the book, but in PM1, I went through “heartache to activism” and after the betrayal of the Democrats in 2007 and my subsequent departure from the party of Jefferson, Truman, war, and disaster, I was thoroughly attacked and kicked to the proverbial curb by some liberal/Democrat organizations that I believed were antiwar, but they were only anti-Bush. So, PM2 will take me from "activism" back to "heartache."

As it turns out, since Trump has gladly continued and expanded Obama’s destructive wars for profit and power, those same organizations weren’t even anti-Republican war, I guess. No wars have ended, nothing has changed, except the liberals have crossed the line to attach a “neo” in front of their label and now know they cannot criticize a Republican for war, because if they point one finger at the GOP, four more fingers are pointing at their own rotten core and the DNC.

I have transformed from someone who was terrified to travel, if I had to fly, to a person that has visited every continent (except Antartica) and can be sanguine even in the worst turbulence, or annoying travel experiences with the TSA, or airport personnel. My travels have included being warmly held in the bosoms of some of what most USAians consider “the enemy” like Cuba and Venezuela, and finding out what I was inculcated and indoctrinated with regarding the “enemy” was mostly calculated bullshit.

I have met with presidents, peasants and revolutionaries and have had some very surreal experiences meeting substantial people who I was told were subpar and very subpar people who I always believed were substantial. “Do tell, Cindy!” Well, I will.

After I left the Democrat party and ran for Congress against the backstabbing, one-percenter, Nancy Pelosi, any national coverage of me and my activities dried up, so I started Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox, a weekly podcast that has been stirring the pot and poking the rotten establishment since the beginning of 2009.

I rode my bike from California to Washington DC in 2013 and since it was so “fun” (read stressful) to run against Pelosi in 2008, I have dipped my toe in the corrupt US electoral system two other times. These stories have me as a central character, but also have wider implications and instruction that go far beyond me and what I have tried to accomplish since I buried my son for lies and the benefit of a few.

My children have gifted me with five of the most precious beings on earth: my grandchildren, and their very existence on this troubled planet drive me to do my work. Frankly, I am terrified for them and they, and their child-colleagues all around the Earth deserve better from us and if we aren’t doing everything we can to insure their lives are more peaceful, prosperous and environmentally stable than ours, then we are failing them. Like the World Social Forum says and why I became a socialist is, “A Better World is Possible.” After all the real life experience, betrayal, and setbacks I have had, I still believe that a better world is possible and that is not only possible, but achievable. Thus, I have left the "heartache" behind and embraced socialist revolution.

One thing I have learned since Casey was killed is that these are ALL our children and we should try and protect them as much as we would our own children and grandchildren—even if we are parents, or not.

For 90% of my folderol and dedicated activism over the years, I had my sister/comrade/best-friend Dede Miller by my side. Tragically, she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in the middle of 2015 and after a very exhausting and painful struggle, she passed away on January 22, 2017. This book is dedicated to her and will hopefully give me some kind of closure to the chapter of my life where my “Irish Twin” (she was only 11-months younger than I) is with me in spirit, but not in fact. Granted, Dede had a huge spirit and before she got cancer, a contagious joie de vivre, but, selfishly, I want her in the flesh, back by my side.

When Dede was a few days away from making her transition from this life, I told her, “You have lived a life of meaning. So many people are better off because you were alive. Your life made a difference. Not very many people can say that. I am blessed because you were my sister.”

Finally, I begin this book at the beginning of my seventh decade on planet earth. I have made almost sixty complete trips around the sun and I want my life to also have meaning. I want as many people as possible to be better off because I lived--and lived a life of service to humanity.

I want to be like Dede and I want to live up to what my seven year old granddaughter Jovie recently said, “Gigi, (what my grandkids call me) when I grow up, I want to be just like you.”

Sixty and still un-retired. I guess when the demented US Empire collapses, or the people rise up in rebellion and overthrow it, I will quit—until then, I will plant both feet firmly on the shoulders of those that went before me and refuse to give up.

Cindy Sheehan
Vacaville, Ca
July 9, 2017

A Party For California Independence! (Soapbox Podcast July 9, 2017)

JULY 9, 2017

Guests: Theo Slater & Margo Drgos

Topic: Prospects for California Independence

Theo Slater


This week on the Soapbox we are joined by Theo Slater, the National Chair of the California National Party, as well as Margo Drgos, the Press Secretary of the Party. We discuss prospects for an independent California, what would be different if California had independence from Washington, and why independence could set an example for other states. 


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Cindy Sheehan Soapbox Rerun W/ David Talbot: The CIA and The Devils Chessboard

GUEST: David Talbot
TOPIC: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government


An explosive, headline-making portrait of Allen Dulles, the man who transformed the CIA into the most powerful—and secretive—colossus in Washington, from the founder of Salon.com and author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers.

America’s greatest untold story: the United States’ rise to world dominance under the guile of Allen Welsh Dulles, the longest-serving director of the CIA. Drawing on revelatory new materials—including newly discovered U.S. government documents, U.S. and European intelligence sources, the personal correspondence and journals of Allen Dulles’s wife and mistress, and exclusive interviews with the children of prominent CIA officials—Talbot reveals the underside of one of America’s most powerful and influential figures.

Dulles’s decade as the director of the CIA—which he used to further his public and private agendas—were dark times in American politics. Calling himself “the secretary of state of unfriendly countries,” Dulles saw himself as above the elected law, manipulating and subverting American presidents in the pursuit of his personal interests and those of the wealthy elite he counted as his friends and clients—colluding with Nazi-controlled cartels, German war criminals, and Mafiosi in the process. Targeting foreign leaders for assassination and overthrowing nationalist governments not in line with his political aims, Dulles employed those same tactics to further his goals at home, Talbot charges, offering shocking new evidence in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

An exposé of American power that is as disturbing as it is timely, The Devil’s Chessboard is a provocative and gripping story of the rise of the national security state—and the battle for America’s soul.

 Graphic by Anthony Freda