Aug 06

Socialist Party of Michigan Statement Regarding the Rise of Irrationalism in the United States

In the past five years, a menace that had been brewing beneath the surface of American society has broken through the water’s surface and began its rampage across American society.  This beast is the beast of irrationalism – a 19th century philosophy that rose in reaction to the horrors visited upon Europe in the wake of Napoleon’s armies which serves as an opposition to the Enlightenment ideal of rationalism.  Irrationalism supposes that there is no objective truth, or that that truth does not matter, and rejects objective facts, reason, and logic.  It supposes that all logic is but an ad hoc (after the fact) rationalization of what someone already wants to believe to be true.

The reality of the matter is that an objective truth does exist, but we are imperfect vehicles of rational thought and irrational thought can often overpower our rational abilities.  Yet, the objective truth is out there and our struggle must always be to maximize our ability to use logic and reason rather than abandon them and act in ways that only worsen the objective threats that we face.

Fascism is characterized by a conjunction of irrationalism, nationalism, and elitism; and that threat has arisen in America through the emergence of such fascist groups as the Boogaloo Boys, the Proud Boys, the QAnon conspiracy theory, and the fascist administration of Donald Trump.  Early in the Trump Administration we were introduced to the concept of “alternate facts,” rejecting the notion of an objective truth.  We were soon told to ignore what even our own senses tell us and instead only listen to a single authority.  As time went on, our collective grip on reality slipped as many held to obvious lies culminating in a rise in violence and an attempt to overthrow a republic which has been compromised to serve the interests of the owners of capital in favor of a dictatorship run by a single owner of that capital for his sole benefit.

Because of this irrationalist onslaught, scapegoating distracts us from real solutions.   Once economic power begins concentrating in the hands of a few capitalists, capitalism naturally begins to exploit workers, driving down wages while demanding higher workloads and leaving some unemployed and distraught.  However, irrationalism leads us to scapegoat ethnic minorities and immigrants instead of addressing the actual problem.  Economic activity is driven by those with the most pressing needs, the poor, receiving money so that they can actually buy those things – yet irrationalism leads us to instead give tax breaks to the rich who hoard this wealth instead of spend it.  Capitalism’s push for infinite growth while maximizing short term profit is driving our climate to a breaking point where failure to act to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 will see human civilization collapse by 2050 – yet irrationalism leads us to instead increase emissions to allow those with plenty to gather more in the sundown decades of human civilization.  COVID-19 puts us all at risk of death and other complications which include unprecedented strokes in young people, renal failure requiring dialysis, and other severe complications – yet irrationalism leads us to hold coronavirus parties, refuse vaccines, and refuse to wear masks where we kill ourselves instead of protecting ourselves.  American democracy is rigged to ensure that the people vote for one of two parties who serve the interests of the super rich, disenfranchising minority voters and leaving options representing the vast working class to seem untenable – yet irrationalism leads us to instead try to overthrow the results in favor of a sociopath who benefited from this rigging and openly boasted that he tore apart the postal system in order to steal the election under the myth that the election was somehow stolen from him instead of directing that energy to establishing a legitimate democracy.

Irrationalism is the underlying rot that is worsening our societal problems and prevents us from taking the correct actions in order to correct them.  It removes our ability to sort fact from fiction and to rationally come to appropriate solutions.  It must be fought as an existential threat.  The Socialist Party of Michigan, like all legitimate socialist organizations, stands for the Enlightenment values of rationalism, liberty, democracy, and egalitarianism while aware at how liberalism has failed to realize these values due to its reliance upon capitalism.

The source of irrationalism does not, however, lie solely with the fascists, but rather the sources are what enabled the fascists to rise in the first place.  Capitalist administrations of both major parties have repeatedly weakened faith in institutions generally through lies in propaganda, experimenting on American citizens, and regularly lying on the campaign trail.  Corporate media often repeated and amplified these lies, misrepresented scientific studies, distracted us with sensationalism and manufactured scandal, and generally played hard and fast with the truth.  The inevitable result is Americans developing a lack in faith in institutions which not only includes those which have been bad actors, but legitimate and scholarly institutions as well.

However, there are many ways which research has shown to reduce the effects of irrational thought and reinforce rationalism.  Higher education reduces a person’s susceptibility to irrationalist thought and so offering free education at all levels, including the postgraduate level, will encourage rational thought.  Income inequality, such as created in abundance by neoliberal capitalism, increases irrational thought while lessening this inequality, as would be the result under socialism, bolsters rational thought.  Thinking of death increases irrational thought – so reducing sensationalist news that each and every thing “may be killing you” as a teaser and enabling people to avoid death by reducing the number living paycheck to paycheck, giving them access to free national healthcare with preventative care, and ensuring that no one is facing homelessness are means of reducing these thoughts.  Encouraging compassion, as innate in the socialist worldview, reduces irrational thought.  It also is boosted by broadening the range of people considered to be of the same group which fighting several bigotries such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, and others while uniting under a working class identity assists in doing.

While irrationalism poses this existential threat to us – the platform of the Socialist Party of Michigan and the Socialist Party USA are capable of effectively fighting against it, allowing us to face the myriad of problems in society and overcome them, creating a better world for all.

Oct 22

2020 Statewide Ballot Proposals: Vote No on 1, Yes on 2

Vote No on Proposal 1

The Socialist Party of Michigan calls for rejection of statewide ballot proposal 2020-01. Under present provisions of the Michigan Constitution, royalties derived from oil and gas drilling on public lands were initially directed to the Natural Resources Trust Fund (NTRF), which provides grants to local governments for the purchase of land for recreation and for development of recreation facilities. Since 2011, when the NTRF reached its $500 million cap, oil and gas revenues have been shifted to the State Parks Endowment Fund (SPEF), which provides funding for the state park system. Continued funding for NTRF grants has in turn been limited to that derived from interest and earnings on the Trust Fund’s financial investments.

Although the proposal would reallocate oil and gas drilling revenues to the NTRF once the SPEF reaches its $800 million cap, that ceiling is not projected to be reached until the 2050s. In the meantime, the proposal would replace the NTRF’s current 25% limit on spending for the development and renovation of recreation facilities with the mandatory allocation of at least 25% of available funds for that purpose. As a result, the NTRF board and state legislature would be free to redirect the majority of NTRF funds presently allocated to acquiring land for environmental conservation. The proposal would also require that at least 20% of the SPEF’s funds be used for capital improvements.   

With the backing of DTE Energy and the Michigan Oil and Gas Association, the proposal’s real purpose is to renew the oil and gas industry’s greenwashing of drilling and fracking operations and maintain its environmentally disastrous extraction from public lands as the condition for their protection and enjoyment. By driving up investments tied to greater maintenance and operations expenses, the proposal further aims to heighten budgetary pressure for increased fossil fuel extraction.

The Socialist Party of Michigan calls for public ownership of the energy industry, a massive investment in wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric power to end our dependence on fossil fuels, a state and national moratorium on hydraulic fracking, and full funding for parks and natural resources conservation through steeply graduated income taxation and a democratically planned economy centered on public use and sustainability rather than private profit.  

Vote Yes on Proposal 2

The Socialist Party of Michigan calls for approval of statewide ballot proposal 2020-02. The proposal would add language to the Michigan constitutional provision affording limited protection from warrantless searches and seizures so as to include electronic data and electronic communications.

Although the proposed amendment does little more than incorporate existing Fourth Amendment case law, while failing to rectify more glaring shortcomings of the present state constitutional language, we stand unquestionably on the side of any measure to expand civil rights protections and limit the powers of the police.

May 22

Occupy the PGA – May 26, 2018 in Benton Harbor!

Saturday, May 26, 2018, 11am
Benton Harbor City Hall
200 Wall Street
Benton Harbor, MI 49022 (map)

The Socialist Party of bentonharbor2018Michigan has endorsed the Occupy the PGA demonstration against the Whirlpool corporation’s war on the people of Benton Harbor. We urge all members and supporters to turn out and participate in this important event!

Socialist Party of Michigan Statement for Occupy the PGA 2018
Adopted May 22, 2018

Following its own key role in the decimation of Benton Harbor’s manufacturing-base, Whirlpool has leveraged both the city’s economic desperation and its own decades of control over the wider Berrien County political machine to compel the pending transformation of the city into a wealthy ruling class resort town. As a biennial showcase of its expanding luxury developments geared to that objective, Whirlpool is now once again hosting the Senior PGA Championship in the state of Michigan’s poorest city.

For the site of its Harbor Shores Golf Club, opened in 2010, Whirlpool took over 465 acres of prime lakefront land for under a million dollars, including 22 central acres of the public lakefront park comprising the city’s crown jewel civic asset. In turn Whirlpool availed itself of $150 million in state tax incentives for the resort’s development, while predictably reneging on its promised 2000 jobs and major tax revenue boost for the surrounding populace.

With greed as pervasive as its political reach, however, Whirlpool continues to show that it won’t be content until it has the whole pie. Rather than merely expanding its private luxury housing investments to accelerate financial gentrification, Whirlpool has marshaled all resources at its helm to escalate hardship for the poor and minority population it aims to drive out. In addition to christening the 2010 opening of its resort with the four-year reign of Emergency Manager’ dictatorship, Whirlpool continues to pull the strings of all surrounding governing bodies to maintain a permanent state of austerity coupled with unbridled police repression and judicial injustice reminiscent of the Jim Crow era South.

Whirlpool’s colonial conquest of Benton Harbor provides a stark illustration of the modern day character of capitalist industrial firms as insatiably predatory institutions that traffic in the spoils of their own local economic destabilization. Having dispossessed so many community residents of their livelihoods, Whirlpool now aims to capitalize on the hardships borne from its desertion in order to dispossess such residents of their community itself.

The Socialist Party of Michigan stands in full solidarity with the struggle of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization and all Benton Harbor residents fighting to resist corporate takeover, and we likewise echo the demand that Senior PGA transfer 25% of its local profit to the cash-strapped city. Additionally, we call for the immediate placement of Whirlpool and all other major manufacturing firms under public ownership and democratic control; a democratically planned economy with guaranteed full employment for all; a 100% capital flight tax on runaway industry, overhauling and replacing the present systems of policing and legal injustice; a massive public works program to rebuild our cities and communities; and legal recognition of the right of communities of color to autonomy, community control, and self-determination, including the right to self-defense by any means necessary against reactionary violence and police harassment and brutality.


Mar 14

Socialist Party of Michigan Statement on the Flint Water Crisis

The state-orchestrated poisoning of Flint’s water supply represents the latest local crisis to emerge from the ruling class’ increasing turn to colonial rule over the urban communities worst devastated by its own industrial capital migration and desertion. Concurrently with awarding over $2 billion in tax subsidies to the automaker that chopped 72,000 jobs from Flipoisonsignnt’s economy, Michigan’s corporate politicians vulturistically seized upon the battered city’s revenue-stream challenges to replace the very structure of self-governance with a state-run corporate austerity regime holding total contempt for the health and well-being of the city’s disenfranchised populace.

Equally as false as the water safety assurances of Snyder administration officials throughout the year and a half following the water source switch to the Flint River is any notion that Snyder and  other high level officials were not long before informed of the lead contamination resulting from the expense-based decision to omit federally mandated corrosion control measures. Indeed, even more damning than either the preceding year’s span of water-safety related emails to Snyder’s top aides – or even the state’s deliberate procedure of running the tap for several minutes before collecting water samples – is the fact that, in the fall of 2014, Snyder’s Flint-installed emergency manager arranged for General Motors to obtain a special reconnection back to the Detroit water system’s Lake Huron-source on account of the Flint River water’s untenable corrosion of engine parts assembled at its Flint Engine Operations Plant.

Similarly, as of January 7, 2015, the state government office building in Flint began providing coolers of purified water adjacent to each drinking fountain for state employees. In conjunction, the state’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) concurrently issued a notice announcing that “[t]he coolers will arrive today and will be provided as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements.” Both the January DTMB notice and decision to rely on such a substitute commercial water source came at the very same time that state officials were insisting to Flint residents that the local tap water was safe to drink.

What Snyder and company actually mean by their claimed lack of earlier knowledge about the problems with Flint’s water is that they did not know the contamination would evoke wide enough attention or concern to be the subject of a national scandal. After all, while not attributable to the water supply, children in many of Detroit’s zip codes have long tested positive for lead poisoning at far higher rates than those of Flint—with relatively little wider public outcry.

In Flint, Snyder simply relied on the same assumption under which his administration has systematically opted to subject black-majority cities to emergency manager control, despite withholding the same approach to majority-white cities facing greater financial challenges. The crux of that assumption is the premise that as long as such predation and injustice is sharply racially and spatially tailored, neither the lives nor political rights of poor urban blacks matter enough for such actions to elicit large scale political consequences.

Although both leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have attempted to cast the Flint scandal as a solely Republican affair, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, led under the Obama White House, was equally complicit in its knowledge and concealment of the water contamination from very early on. Indeed, the EPA even took explicit measures to suppress the internal memo produced and internally submitted by Chicago-based EPA agent and lead-expert Miguel Del Toral, who, upon having discovered the apparent lead level spike in February, 2015, further personally verified the cause and scope of the contamination in April.

In response to the internal memo, Del Toral’s boss, then EPA Region 5 Head Susan Hedman, both removed and silenced Del Toral from any further work on the matter and contacted Michigan state officials to assure them that Del Toral had been “handled” and wouldn’t be heard from again. As later observed by Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech professor who performed the first independent lead testing of Flint’s water to refute the state’s sham test results, “It was very clear that an agreement had been reached of some sort between the EPA and MDEQ that would let MDEQ have their way with Flint’s children.”

Nor was Democratic complicity limited to the federal level. As revealed by the Snyder administration emails released after the story broke, “the ultimate decision” to approve the switch to the Flint River was made by then State Treasurer Andy Dillon, who, directly prior to joining the Snyder Administration as a cross-party appointee, served as the Michigan Democrats’ chosen State House Speaker. Also backing and celebrating the move was Flint’s Democratic then-Mayor, Dayne Walling, who subsequently kept his mayoral title while concurrently assuming the status of a direct full time employee of Flint’s emergency manager.

Among the most astonishing revelations to surface since the news of the water crisis broke is that the change of Flint’s water source to the Flint River was not, by any stretch, a cost saving measure as Snyder and his associates had all along claimed. In fact, while the switch from the Detroit water system to the Flint River was intended to be a temporary two-year measure, pending a subsequent switch to the new Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) pipeline upon its construction, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) had offered Flint a 50% reduction on its then-existing rates, resulting in savings of $800 million over 30 years and 20% lower costs than the KWA connection. Yet, upon categorically rejecting six different DWSD proposals, Flint’s emergency manager, under control of the Governor’s office, not only switched the city water source to the Flint River, but then immediately sold a 9-mile stretch of its former DWSD pipeline to Genesee County so as to hinder any possibility of reconnection.

Consequently, in light of such falsity to the entire cost-saving pretext for the decision to replace the DWSD source with the Flint River, the only probable explanation behind it is that it was intended to provoke a sudden revenue crisis for the DWSD system’s operations which would influence the then-pending approval and launch of the Great Lakes Water Authority’s corporate-modeled takeover of the DWSD infrastructure as the key step toward the Detroit water system’s  privatization. Accordingly, it thus appears that cutting Flint’s municipal costs was never even a genuine factor in the equation. Rather, the real purpose of the change was to use Flint as a pawn to help instigate the release of public assets to private business interests elsewhere in the state.

The Socialist Party of Michigan calls for the recall and criminal prosecution of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and prosecution of all other state and federal officials who knowingly attempted to maintain or conceal the poisoning of Flint’s tap water, as well as the payment of state reparations for the tragic and irreversible harm inflicted.

Additionally, we call for a massive increase in federal funding for lead removal and exposure reduction, the restoration and expansion of state municipal revenue sharing, and large scale public projects and measures to rebuild Michigan’s crumbling industrial cities —including the reopening of closed factories under social ownership and workers’ control and the enactment of a 100% capital flight tax. Most importantly, we strive to usher a new social and economic order in which human needs and democratic rights are never made subordinate to private investor and business interests.

— Adopted at the March 13, 2016 Socialist Party of Michigan state membership meeting —