Sunday, July 26, 2009
Review: "Thank you, Cindy, for leading the way."
Myth America: The 10 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution by Cindy Sheehan
When I first heard the name Cindy Sheehan I was soon to become a senior in High School. I heard her name on National Public Radio, in the living room of my house where I was bored out of my mind as the summer began to rap itself up, and I was soon to return to my last year of school before leaving my small rural Ohio town and go to college in the big city of Cleveland.
Hearing about Cindy Sheehan was very inspiring.
In my town, I had been called to see the principal for handing out anti-war leaflets. I had gotten into physical confrontations about the war with students soon to enlist in the military, and make the tragic mistake that Casey Sheehan made years before.
I was told more times than I could count that I needed “Shut up and support the troops.”
I was told that being against the war was unpatriotic, disrespectful, rude, insane, and meant that I “hated America.”
Sheehan and the Media
When I heard what Cindy Sheehan was doing, picketing Bush’s ranch to demand an answer from him as to why her son had been killed, I smiled. Cindy had lost her son in the Iraq war, so there was no way anyone could accuse her of being unpatriotic or “America Hating.” Those people who blindly supported the war could not dismiss her as another “childish” radical. They would have to listen and engage with what she had to say about the war on Iraq. Or at least, so I thought.
The hate machine of the US media began attacking her relentlessly. She was first called an “anti-Semite.” Then lying e-mails circulated that claimed she didn’t even raise her own son. I recall how she was said to be “exploiting her son’s death”, while Bush was clearly exploiting every soldiers death in order to send more and more to the same fate.
But the mere fact that her protest received coverage at all from the U.S. privately owned for profit media was a sign that the war was increasingly growing unpopular with many people.
Cindy Sheehan: A Proletarian Mother
I did not meet Cindy in person until over a year later. In Cleveland, the U.S. Labor Against War (USLAW) coalition of trade unionists held its national gathering at a hotel. I went to the gathering as a young activist college student, and I met Cindy Sheehan. What struck me about her appearance was that she did not have the counter-culture image of so much of the left.
Cindy Sheehan was a working class woman. When she was a child, her father had fed the family by working at a Lockheed Martin Plant in California. As an adult, her job had been running an after-school program from the Catholic Church where she worked as a youth minister. Like most working class Mother’s she devoted a great deal of her life to raising her children and struggling to give them a good life.
The journey that Cindy went on following her son’s death, is emblematic of the journey that millions upon millions of everyday workers will be going down in years to come.
Cindy had always been a Democrat, and leaned to the left a little. When she began her protests she still was a faithful supporter of the Democratic Party. But soon she saw that the Democrats were not going to end the war. She saw this very well when, with much of her help and support, they took control of Congress and did nothing to end the brutal war that had killed her son.
For a time, Cindy became associated with non-socialist feminist groupings, speaking of “matriotism not patriotism” in one of her e-mails. Cindy spoke highly of Ron Paul for a period as well.
Like many in the working class are currently doing, Sheehan wanted to end the ills of this system. She wanted to know what caused them, and she searched for answers.
Soon, she found some.
Cindy had been scoffed at and ignored by the President of the United States, the country for which her son had died. Yet, she was embraced by the President of Venezuela, who was moving his country towards Socialism. He did not dismiss her or attack, but hugged her and led those watching to chant “Cindy! Cindy! Cindy!” with him. It seemed that not long afterward, Cindy herself would be moving down the socialist road as well.
Her new book "Myth America: The 10 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution", is not a liberal or even reformist manifesto by any means. The book is an open endorsement of Socialism, and attack on the “Robber Class” of capitalists.
Sheehan calls the bourgeoisie the “Robber Class” and the rest of the human race the “Robbed Class.” In Chapter 7 of the book, she gives a lengthy defense of the Cuban Revolution, the fruits of which she has seen with her own eyes. She dares to tell the truth about Cuba’s healthcare, education, and housing programs which are a testament to Socialism’s practicality.
I feared a bit when I saw that she had chapters on such topics as 9-11 Truth and the Federal Reserve. I feared that she may be embracing the Internet cult of Ludwig Von Mises and Ron Paul’s disciples, but my fears were put away.
Sheehan shows in her chapter on the Federal Reserve System, how it is incarnation of capitalism. She explains how the Federal Reserve was created by the “robber class” to serve its own interests. Sheehan denounces the ridiculous Larouchian calls for a return to the “Gold Standard”, which she explains is just as harmful. Instead, Sheehan calls for decentralized, local, community-controlled banking systems.
In a sense, Sheehan calls not even for the nationalization of banking in the U.S., but for the Socialization of it. She calls for we the people to control the banks, the fifth plank of Marx’s Communist Manifesto, which, contrary to the claims the John Birch Kooks, is not enacted by a private corporation called the Federal Reserve that serves the rich.
Sheehan says some things that many of her fellow U.S. workers desperately need to hear. She explains how elections do not matter, and how little change has come about a result of the new administration. Sheehan also explains how the U.S. does not have the highest standard of living in the world, and is hardly “The Greatest Nation in the Universe.”
Common Sense Socialism
Sheehan speaks against environmental degradation, and goes further by explaining that the root cause of the earth’s destruction is the profit lust of this “robber class” she speaks against. If only so many within the environmental movement itself could understand that the problem is not that we don’t have enough “green jobs” or an “eco-friendly capitalism.”
For a movement based on science, it seems to have taken a non-scientist like Cindy to make the scientific observation that if it is more profitable to pollute, pollution will continue, as long as profit remains the bases of the economy.
Sheehan does not even separate herself from Communism in her conclusion, and openly says that she wants a “Revolution.”
Sheehan speaks repeatedly in the book of the mass number of workers being thrown out of their homes and calls for evicted workers to join together and move to a tent city outside of the white house, demanding an end to the rule of the Robber Class.
I am force to think not only of the great Communist-led Hunger Marches of the 1930s, but also of the recent People’s Summit Tent City held in downtown Detroit, which I attended and joined hundreds of working class people in gathering to oppose the rich capitalists who met several blocks away to plot how to further rob the working people of the world.
Education for Revolution
Cindy Sheehan did not go into the ditch outside of Bush’s ranch in 2005 because she was a Communist. Cindy Sheehan went to the ditch in Crawford Texas in the heat of the late summer because her son had been killed in Iraq. Cindy confronted the system that killed her son, though at the time, she didn’t even fully oppose it.
Cindy Sheehan was forced to become a socialist by life experience. Cindy was educated, not by dusty Marxist textbooks, but in the school known as Class Struggle.
Cindy wanted the unjust war that took her son away to end. She soon could do nothing but confront the reality that the system was responsible for waging and continuing that evil war.
Hugo Chavez came to office in Venezuela advocating the “Third Way” between extreme capitalism and socialism. But like Cindy, he saw that the private corporations would not allow him to even make slight reforms. After a U.S. backed coup attempt, Chavez was won over to the system which abolishes the rule of the “robber class” and lets the people rule through control of the banks, factories, natural resources, and industries.
Socialism is the solution to the contradictions we face in this world. When people take sides in these contradictions, and try to change the world for the better, they will either give up and go home, or see that the symptoms they battle all stem from the same disease.
I hope that millions of other working class men and women, in the country which has so long been a center of right-wing chauvinism everywhere but its college campuses, will be won over politically as they see capitalism devour itself, swallowing their homes, jobs, livelihoods, and freedoms with it.
The journey on which Sheehan embarked from the death of her son to the writing of Myth America is a journey that the entire human race is currently making. Thank you Cindy, for leading our way.