My End of Year Letter, 2022
I hope 2023 brings you joy and fulfillment and there is progress towards justice and liberation in the U.S. and globally. And that fascist, racist and authoritarian organizations and governments suffer some serious defeats.
About my 2022!
Although I had a mild case of Covid in July, I was mainly healthy and feel so as I approach 2023. Many friends, some very close died in 2022. I attended memorials for Alan Parker at the Squaxin Tribal Center, near Shelton, and Gary Owens at the Philippino Cultural Center in Seattle. I plan to attend in the next few months, the memorials of two close friends, Jeff Perry and Dan Leahy. They have both, significantly contributed to the struggles for racial and economic justice. They live on in the many people they touched and influenced. I miss them. With these deaths, I am reminded of our own mortality and the need to focus our energy on what is important and not trivialities. 2022 was my first full year of retirement. I miss teaching, especially the social interaction with students and faculty but am no longer interested in future full-time teaching….
Rest in Power, Dan Leahy
Dan Leahy, a great human being, an inspiring and effective organizer, a builder of left institutions, and a great teacher, inside and outside of the classroom died of pancreatic cancer, December 10, 2022. Dan was also a community and neighborhood organizer, an excellent researcher of the power elite, a wonderful father, husband and friend.
With Dan’s advice and consultation, two his closest friends, Melissa Roberts and Stephanie Guilloud, created a website about his life, his organizing and relevant lessons for those of us committed to creating a just world, danleahy.org. I strongly recommend you check it out, whether you knew Dan or not.
Just one example of Dan’s effectiveness was the leading role he played in stopping the operation of two nuclear power plants in the early 1980’s, near Olympia, where we both live. They still stand there, almost fully constructed but never producing nuclear power.
I had the honor of teaching with Dan at the undergraduate and graduate level at the Evergreen State College five times. He was student centered, always prepared, often sharing charts that synthesized Dan’s insightful political economic analysis and his strategic insights. Many of these informative charts are on his website. His mentoring of first-generation college students was exemplary. He made a major difference in many, many students lives.
I also observed Dan giving talks, classes and organizing workshops and conferences, when teaching groups of workers. He always challenged these workers in a respectful manner to understand more deeply the political economic context of their working conditions and the society in which they lived. He presented in an accessible manner lessons from history for these workers and students to work collectively to build and confront power and to further economic and social justice. He also created spaces for workers to share experiences and learn from each other.
Besides being a good friend, I have learned so much from Dan. So have many others.
Let us honor Dan Leahy by organizing at a local, national and global level for a non-capitalist world.
Dan Leahy Presente!
The Case for a Universal Basic Income
(Based on my presentation at Global Forum for Democratizing Work, October 6, 2021)
Howard Zinn Presente!
Talk given at Conference in Pekarna, Slovenia
by Peter Bohmer, November 25, 2022
My Reflection on Howard Zinn
My trip to Europe
by Peter Bohmer, firstname.lastname@example.org
July 26, 2022
I recently returned from a two month visit on July 7, 2022 to seven countries in Europe visiting friends, families and activists. It was a very meaningful and enjoyable trip. I visited Spain, Italy, Greece, Austria, Slovenia, Sweden, the northern part of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The hospitality and warmth people showed to me was incredible. Many were members of the group Real Utopia, Realutopia.org. Thank You my friends, family and comrades! I truly appreciate you. Part of the reason for my warm reception is the respect people in most countries show to elders, which is much less common in the U.S.
I saw and appreciated beauty in many of the places I visited, nature, homes and beautiful gardens, beaches and lakes and seas, and cities. I learned about the history of partisan resistance against the Nazis in Slovenia, of collaboration with the Nazis in several countries, e.g., Sweden, of the Irish Republican struggle for a united Ireland, and more on my family history, especially with regards to the Nazis.
A further summary based on my conversations with people in the countries!
I visited!The “left” as a social force is currently weak in the seven countries I visited–whether anarchists, radical social movements or socialist organizations. However, there are active left groups doing good work in all the places I visited such as “The City Upside Down” in Salonika, Greece and the Pekarna Cooperatives in Maribor, Slovenia and the Kapsylen Cooperatives in Stockholm. Kapsylen is involved in supporting actively political prisoners and selling olive oil from Palestine and coffee from the EZLN.
The isolation caused by the Coronavirus has been a major factor in the weakness of the left as it has limited face to face interactions and meetings and community gatherings. A greater cause of weakness of the left in the U.S. but also in the countries I visited is the growth of extreme identity politics and the related tendency to cancel people for perceived limitations in their political consciousness, often around transgender issues. Identity of course matters, I am critiquing where identity becomes destiny and the possibility of empathy across identities is denied. This expelling, canceling of people, the turning on each other is exacerbated by social media. This destructive behavior is caused by the weakness of the left, our feelings of powerlessness, and a cause of its further weakness. This problem is probably worse in the U.S. but also widespread in Europe. Transphobia is a continuing problem in the left and wider society; my criticism is how it is being addressed and challenged.
The authoritarian right is a serious danger in almost all of the countries I visited, but at least, not growing. For example, the Swedish Democrats, whose origins are fascist, are an example of the growing right-wing anti-immigrant political parties that have recently grown throughout Europe. They seem to have levelled off at about 20% support in the polls and popular support. Ireland was the one exception, fascism and the authoritarian right except for a few Unionist (pro British) groups in the north are minuscule. The Irish history of being colonized up into the 20th century by the British and up to the present in the six counties in the north of Ireland is a cause of identification with the people from other ex-colonies.
In Greece, Golden Dawn is no longer a force but authoritarian rightists including supporters of the 1967 military coup are in the New Democracy led government. The Social Democrats throughout the countries I visited are neoliberal and declining. There is some growth of the Greens but their economic program is mainly neoliberal and they increasingly accept the growing militarism of Europe. Political parties in this current period of a global neoliberal economy, unless they are explicitly anti-capitalist or at least anti-neo-liberal in their analysis and policies become neo-liberal over time. The global and elite pressures are very strong for movement in this direction as is their increasing professional-managerial class membership and the decline of working-class labor unions as their base.
I was surprised at the public support in Sweden for joining NATO. Based on the popular perception of the history of Russian aggression against Sweden and reinforced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, their fear of Russian expansionism and militarism is even stronger than in the U.S. I don’t see Russia as a threat to Sweden or to Finland, who Sweden is closely aligned with.
I see the possibilities of the growth of a left in the countries I visited based on climate and housing justice whose base is precarious workers. Almost everyone I spent time with,mentioned that the climate crisis was here, not just a future danger. I heard much support for an anti-militarist and global Green New Deal.
Except for Vienna, there are housing shortages and rapidly rising rents in every major city in western and southern Europe. The extensive amount of social housing in Vienna has limited the rise in housing prices there, compared to other cities such as Dublin where housing prices are skyrocketing. Housing as a human right and not as an asset to make money off resonated among the people in all the countries I visited.
Neoliberalism has caused less and less secure jobs and more jobs with no benefits, e.g., college teachers increasingly are hired on limited contracts. Young people are the most adversely affected by these changes in the labor market. In Athens, there is important labor organizing among these precarious workers.
Europe is no longer, overwhelmingly, “white”. Immigration from the Global South is substantial. Immigrant and refugee justice must be combined with anti-austerity programs in order to combat the belief that immigrants are causing the decline of social benefits, pensions and secure jobs. Challenging in theory and practice this zero-sum ideology that gains for immigrants are the cause of the decline for domestically born workers is a necessary part of creating unity among them.
Many people I was with asked me what is going on in the United States–the repeal of Roe vs Wade, the voter suppression, the amount and worship of guns, mass killings, the support for QAnon, and the continued support for Trump and Trumpism—that it is beyond understanding and worse than anything occurring in Europe. I sadly agreed. I pointed out at the same time, tens of millions participated in the recent Black Lives Matter protests, the growing support for universal health care, the high support for the right to abortion and for socialism. We need to get more organized.
In Solidarity, Peter Bohmer
Perspectives on the War in Ukraine and Rebuiding an Anti-War Movement
Support Ukraine! Russia Get Out of Ukraine! No U.S. or NATO War!
This is a significantly updated and revised version of the talk I originally gave at the “No War with Russia over Ukraine” rally on Feb. 5, 2022. The rally was sponsored by Economics for Everyone.
Support Ukraine, Russia Out of Ukraine, No U.S. or NATO War
Here is the text.
Support Ukraine! Russia Get Out of Ukraine! No U.S. or NATO War!
by Peter Bohmer, February 27, 2021
This is a significantly updated and revised version of the talk I originally gave at the “No War with Russia over Ukraine” rally on Feb. 5, 2022. The rally was sponsored by Economics for Everyone.
The situation between the United States and Russia over Ukraine is very dangerous. Russia is a capitalist country led by an authoritarian and militaristic leader, Vladimir Putin. A major Russian invasion of the Ukraine began on February 24th together with massive bombing.
The Russian aggression against Ukraine is totally wrong and totally unjustified. Yet, from the mainstream media and our leaders, Russia is the only aggressor and the only responsible party for this horrific war. That is not the reality.
An agreement made and then violated – by our side
In 1990, the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev made an agreement with Secretary of State, James Baker, then a close confidant of President, George H.W. Bush. In return for Gorbachev agreeing to the unification of Germany and permitting many nations within the USSR to become independent, the US and European leaders agreed not to station troops east of Germany nor to expand NATO there.
Ukraine was specifically mentioned as part of this verbal agreement. The request from Gorbachev for the neutrality of countries in Eastern Europe must be seen in the context of the Soviet Union losing 25 million of its residents from Nazi aggression and wanting to maintain a buffer between Germany and Russia.
From 1999 to 2004, NATO violated this agreement, expanding east of Germany into Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and the Baltic countries, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The US has recently sent 10.000 US troops to Germany, Poland and Romania with more likely to come. There were major sales of weapons to Ukraine even before the Russian invasion.
A negotiated settlement
There could possibly still be a negotiated settlement along the following lines. In return for Russia agreeing to immediately withdrawing fully from the Ukraine and accepting its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Ukraine, NATO and the U.S. could simultaneously pledge that Ukraine will not now or in the future join NATO. This was the main demand by Putin and the Russian government during their troop buildup on the Ukrainian border. The U.S. totally rejected this reasonable demand so we will never know whether it would have been sufficient to stop the Russian invasion. It still should be made by the U.S. at this late date. Of course, Ukraine should be part of this negotiated settlement.
Does this violate the Ukrainian right to self-determination? Let us not forget that NATO is a military and expansionist alliance led by the US. Sovereignty doesn’t include the right to militarily intervene in other countries which is a central part of NATO. In the longer run, we should demand the dismantling of NATO, a cold war relic.
Why is Our Focus on the United States?
The war is catastrophic for the people of Ukraine and could spread throughout Europe and beyond. Higher energy and food prices globally are happening and likely to worsen as well as a major refugee crisis from Ukrainians fleeing. Negotiations beginning with an immediate ceasefire and diplomacy including in a central way, Ukraine, is the way forward. A neutral Ukraine is a possible, desirable outcome of a settlement.
Let’s demand that the U.S. in addition to calling for ending the Russian invasion and supporting “No Ukraine in NATO” propose sanctions that primarily hurt the rich and powerful in Russia. Much of their wealth is abroad so freezing their assets and threatening to confiscate it could reduce their support for Putin and the war. 60% of Russian exports are oil and natural gas. Refusing to buy them until a cease fire by Russia and honest negotiations would harm Russian exporters although it would also hurt the Russian people as Russian imports would soon be reduced. The U.S. could temporarily increase oil and gas production and help people here by subsidizing the rising costs they incur for higher energy prices.
Other actions that could put pressure on Russia to end its aggression include banning all Russian banks and financial institutions from the SWIFT messaging system which connects most large banks around the world. This would make it more difficult for Russian entities to process transactions and hobble the Russian economy’s ability to do business beyond its borders. Another possibility is boycotting Russian sports teams such as the announcements by Sweden and Poland that they will refuse to play the Russian national soccer team in the qualifying games for the World Cup.
All these actions minimize the possibilities of a wider war and could further undermine the support for the war inside Russia thus increasing the possibility of the Putin led government ending its war of aggression or even having to resign.
There is a serious danger of the escalation of this war. The Ukrainian people have the right to defend themselves and the U.S. sending defensive weapons such as anti-aircraft artillery is justified but not offensive weapons or troops or military advisers.
Those could lead to a war beyond the Ukraine.
Why is our focus on the U.S and not just Russian aggression? We live here and we can have more influence on U.S. actions than on other countries. U.S. behavior is partly our responsibility. When people here participate in an anti-war movement to stop US escalation and support peace efforts, it encourages those in Russia seeking peace and increases their credibility in demanding Russian end the war. Each will reinforce the other.
The large protests in Russia against Putin, saying No to War are courageous and inspiring. More than 3000 have been arrested in Russia since the beginning of the Russian invasion and they are continuing to grow. Let’s support them. The war is not popular in Russia and may lead to Putin’s downfall like what happened to the Czar for leading Russia into the highly destructive WWI.
A war between Russia and the United States over Ukraine?
Let’s continue to oppose the U.S. going to war over Ukraine while supporting the Ukrainian resistance to their invasion. There is a danger of unintended consequences. Specific actions by the US or Russia could be misinterpreted and a broader war that is not planned for could occur. There is the slight danger of a nuclear war. Let us not take this chance. Let’s make part of our daily life — and the groups we are part of, a call for diplomacy and a negotiated settlement.
Building an anti-war movement
Let us educate ourselves, our friends and communities, our workplaces and fellow students about the history and current situation in Ukraine including the human costs of the war and Ukrainian resistance. Let’s build an anti-war movement calling for “No NATO expansion into Ukraine” and Russia out. One of our tasks is to educate and build an antiwar movement for cutting US military spending and closing U.S. military bases around the world. We need a movement against the growing US military build-up and threats against China; a movement that demands the end of sanctions against Iran, Cuba and Venezuela; an end to military support for Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and an end to military sales there.
In building an anti-war movement in Olympia and beyond, we should build one that makes central calls for ending injustice and oppression in the US and links up with organizations and social movements involved in these struggles.
For example, let us connect the anti-war movement to the demand for freedom for Leonard Peltier. He was a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and has been a continuing inspiration to Native Americans and many others.
Leonard has spent 45 years in prison after being unjustly convicted for a 1975 killing of two FBI agents who invaded the Pine Ridge Reservation. Let us demand President Biden grant him clemency on medical and humanitarian grounds. With enough pressure, this is a winnable demand.
Let’s build solidarity with people across borders who are resisting oppression, exploitation, authoritarianism and repression and foreign intervention.
Let’s connect US militarism and imperialism, not only to its costs, but also to “race”, gender and class oppression at home and to an exploitative capitalist system that we need to replace and transform into a participatory socialist system.
Peter Bohmer is active as a member of Economics for Everyone, Real Utopia, and was a long-time faculty member at The Evergreen State College.
My Talk at the No War with Russia over Ukraine Rally, February 5th, 2022
My talk at the “No War with Russia over Ukraine Rally”,
by Peter Bohmer, February 5th, 2022
I am Pete Bohmer, a member of Economics for Everyone, the sponsor of this rally.
This rally is part of a national day of anti-war actions coordinated by Code Pink, codepink.org.
The situation between the United States and Russia over the Ukraine is very dangerous. Russia is a capitalist country led by an authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin. Russia has increased its military build-up to 130,000 troops near their 1300-mile border with Ukraine. This is wrong. Yet, from the mainstream media and our leaders, Russia is the only aggressor and threat to peace in Ukraine. That is far from the reality.
The United States has consistently intervened in other countries, e.g., has tried to overthrow the government in Cuba for over 60 years. In 1990, the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev made an agreement with Secretary of State, James Baker, who was also a close confidant of then President, George H.W. Bush. In return for Gorbachev agreeing to the unification of Germany and permitting the independence of many of the nations within the USSR, there would be no NATO expansion east of Germany, nor stationing of European and US troops east of Germany. Ukraine was specifically mentioned as part of this agreement. This request from Gorbachev for the neutrality of countries in Eastern Europe needs to be put in the context of the Soviet Union losing 20 million people from the Nazi aggression and wanting to have a buffer between Germany and Russia.
In direct violation of this agreement in the late 1990’s, NATO expanded into Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and the Baltic countries. Today, there is a major military buildup of Russian troops near the Ukraine but there has also been an increase of 3000 U.S. troops to Poland and Romania with likely increases to come and increased sales of weapons to the Ukraine. Somewhat ironically, Ukraine’s government, led by Volodymr Zelensky, seems less worried about a Russian invasion than U.S. leaders like Biden and National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan.
There could and should be a negotiated settlement along the following lines. A clear statement by NATO that it will not offer membership to Ukraine in the present or future and that there will be no stationing of U.S. or troops from European countries in the Ukraine. In return Russia is likely to accept the sovereignty of the Ukraine, agree to not intervene in its domestic politics, to not invade and to significantly reduce Russian troops from Ukraine’s border. Of course, Ukraine should be part of this negotiated settlement.
Does this violate the Ukrainian right to self-determination? Perhaps, a little bit but let us not forget that NATO is a military and expansionist alliance led by the U.S. Moreover, sovereignty does not include the right to militarily intervene in other countries which is a central part of NATO. In the longer run, we should demand the dismantling of NATO which is a cold war relic.
A war would be catastrophic for Ukraine and beyond. Negotiations and diplomacy including in a central way, Ukraine, is the only way forward. A neutral Ukraine is one possible desirable outcome of a negotiated settlement. France is currently making that proposal. Let us demand the United States end its threat of sanctions and military escalation and be a part of a negotiated and peaceful solution. The sanctions being proposed by the U.S. Congress would seriously harm the Russian people and could be put into effect even short of a Russian invasion.
Why is our focus on the United States and less on Russia? We live here and we can have more influence on U.S. actions than on other countries. U.S. actions are partly our responsibility. Moreover, by people and an anti-war movement here reducing U.S. escalation and supporting peace efforts encourages those in Russia seeking peace and increases their credibility in demanding Russia de-escalation. Each willeinforce the other.
How likely is war between Russia and the United States over Ukraine?
I don’t know how likely it is, but we are more likely to be effective in stopping a war before an actual war starts. There were massive protests before the 1991 Gulf War (the first war against Iraq), the 2001 U.S. War against Afghanistan and especially the 2003 war against Iraq. Once the U.S. went to war the protests and anti-war movement declined. Also, even if no nation is planning to go to war, there is a danger of unintended consequences of specific actions by the U.S. or Russia, being misinterpreted and a war that is not planned for, occurring. Moreover, besides the destruction of Ukraine from a war fought on Ukrainian territory, there is even the slight danger of a nuclear war. Let us not take this chance and make part of our daily life and groups we are part of –active opposition to United States escalation of this dangerous situation and a call for diplomacy and a negotiated settlement.
Building an Anti-War Movement
Let us educate ourselves, our friends and communities, our workplaces and fellow students about the history and current danger with regards to the Ukraine. Let us build an anti-war movement in support of diplomatic solutions along lines I have mentioned: No expansion of NATO into the Ukraine. Ukraine is the immediate danger but also let us also educate and build an antiwar movement in the not too distant future for cutting U.S. military spending, that is against the growing U.S. military build-up and threats against China, that demands the ending of sanctions against Iran, Cuba and Venezuela, and for ending U.S. military support for Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and for ending military sales to those countries. As already mentioned, let us in the future also call for the dismantling of NATO.
In conclusion, in building an anti-war movement in Olympia and beyond, let us build one that also makes central calls for ending injustice and oppression in the U.S. and links up with organizations and social movements involved in these struggles.
For example, let us connect the anti-war movement to the demand for freedom for Leonard Peltier. He was a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and has been a continuing inspiration to Native Americans and so many others. Leonard has spent 45 years in prison for supposedly killing two FBI agents in 1975 who invaded the Pine Ridge Reservation. His trial was a huge misjustice with coerced and perjured witnesses. The prosecution withheld evidence that could have cleared him. Leonard Peltier has Covid although he had requested a booster shot that he was not given. The conditions at the Federal Prison where he is incarcerated in Coleman, Florida are inhumane. Leonard has diabetes and high blood pressure and other comorbidities with Covid and is 77 years. Let us demand President Biden grant him clemency on medical and humanitarian grounds. With enough pressure, this is a winnable demand.
More generally, let us connect U.S. militarism and imperialism, not only to its costs, but also to “race”, gender and class oppression at home and to an exploitative capitalist system that we need to replace and transform into a participatory socialist system.
No War with Russia over the Ukraine: Diplomacy Not War
Here is the leaflet we are handing out as part of the national day of action against U.S. escalation. Our rally is Saturday, February 5th from Noon to 1 by the State Capital, on the street , Capital Way (just south of Union) in Olympia, WA. Join us!
NO WAR WITH RUSSIA OVER UKRAINE!
We are on the brink of a massive war between the US and Russia – two nuclear-armed states.
The time to speak out is NOW!
We are here on February 5, 2022 to demand an end to the drumbeat of war with Russia over Ukraine! President Biden has just sent 3000 US troops to countries on the border with Ukraine and near Russia.
Let us do what we can to stop the growing escalation and threat of a war on Ukrainian soil and possibly beyond, between Russia and the U.S. The Ukrainian people would pay a horrible price. The dangerous escalation at the Russian/Ukrainian border standoff intensifies. Biden is also considering sending more warships and aircraft and has already delivered more “lethal aid” to Ukraine. The $500 million Congress is set to pass through a fast-track vote could and should be used on communities, climate and needs at home. The Pentagon has said that there is the possibility of sending as many as 50,000 troops!
We do not support the Russian massing of troops on the Ukrainian border nor their annexing by Russia of Crimea in 2014. However, not mentioned by the Biden administration nor most of the U.S. media, is the failure of the U.S. government to live up to its promise made in 1990 by then-Secretary of State James Baker to Russian leader, Gorbachev, that NATO would expand not “one inch to the East” and that the Ukraine would not become a part of NATO. Since 1999, NATO has expanded to include numerous countries, including some that border Russia. Rather than dismissing out of hand the Russian government’s current insistence on a written guarantee that Ukraine will not become part of NATO, the U.S. government should agree to a long-term moratorium on any NATO expansion. Russia and its President Putin have offered to deescalate the situation if Ukraine remains a neutral country and does not become part of the U.S. led and dominated military alliance, NATO.
We live in the United States, so our main responsibility is challenging the U.S. military buildup. Moreover, by organizing in the U.S. against U.S. military escalation and threats to go to war with Russia, and instead, in favor of diplomatic solutions, we are encouraging groups in the Ukraine and Russia who support peace and who are against the growing militarization of the situation. It will increase their credibility and influence. The U.S. military escalation and sending of troops to Poland and Romania lead to justification in Russia for their military escalation.
The only solutions are diplomatic ones. Let us end the forever wars of the United States, the U.S military buildup, and the continued growth of military spending. Let us stop the danger of a major war between two nuclear powers.
Join this rally to demand: DIPLOMACY, NOT WAR;
WAR IS NOT GREEN; NO US/NATO AGGRESSION.
NO MORE WARS FOR CORPORATE PROFIT; $$ FOR HUMAN NEEDS, NOT WAR!
This is a peaceful, nonviolent event. Masks & distancing, please.
This rally coincides with activities around the country, led by Code Pink to resist the normalization of war and demand that not a single bullet or gun be sent to Ukraine, and no troops be sent to Europe. Diplomacy not war!
Sponsored by Economics for Everyone, facebook.com/EconomicsforEveryoneOly/
Facebook Event Page: https://fb.me/e/10KBscXG2