Saturday, January 21, 2012


Theoretical weekends continues with this from Noel Ignatiev.

The Point Is Not To Interpret Whiteness But To Abolish ItNoel Ignatiev

Talk given at the conference "The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness" Berkeley, California, April 11-13, 1997.

Now that White Studies has become an academic industry, with its own dissertation mill, conference, publications, and no doubt soon its junior faculty, it is time for the abolitionists to declare where they stand in relation to it. Abolitionism is first of all a political project: the abolitionists study whiteness in order to abolish it.

Whiteness is not a culture... Whiteness has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with social position. It is nothing but a reflection of privilege, and exists for no reason other than to defend it.

Various commentators have stated that their aim is to identify and preserve a positive white identity. Abolitionists deny the existence of a positive white identity. We at Race Traitor, the journal with which I am associated, have asked some of those who think whiteness contains positive elements to indicate what they are. We are still waiting for an answer. Until we get one, we will take our stand with David Roediger, who has insisted that whiteness is not merely oppressive and false, it is nothing but oppressive and false. As James Baldwin said, "So long as you think you are white, there is no hope for you."

Whiteness is not a culture. There is Irish culture and Italian culture and American culture - the latter, as Albert Murray pointed out, a mixture of the Yankee, the Indian, and the Negro (with a pinch of ethnic salt); there is youth culture and drug culture and queer culture; but there is no such thing as white culture. Whiteness has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with social position. It is nothing but a reflection of privilege, and exists for no reason other than to defend it. Without the privileges attached to it, the white race would not exist, and the white skin would have no more social significance than big feet.

Before the advocates of positive whiteness remind us of the oppression of the white poor, let me say that we have never denied it. The United States, like every capitalist society, is composed of masters and slaves. The problem is that many of the slaves think they are part of the master class because they partake of the privileges of the white skin. We cannot say it too often: whiteness does not exempt people from exploitation, it reconciles them to it. It is for those who have nothing else.

Either America is a very democratic country, where cab drivers beat up city councilmen with impunity, or the privileges of whiteness reach far down into the ranks of the laboring class.

However exploited the poor whites of this country, they are not direct victims of racial oppression, and "white trash" is not a term of racial degradation analogous to the various epithets commonly applied to black people; in fact, the poor whites are the objects of race privilege, which ties them to their masters more firmly than did the arrows of Vulcan bind Prometheus to the rock. Not long ago there was an incident in Boston in which a well-dressed black man hailed a taxi and directed the driver to take him to Roxbury, a black district. The white cab driver refused, and when the man insisted she take him or call someone who would, as the law provided, she called her boyfriend, also a cabdriver, on the car radio, who showed up, dragged the black man out of the cab and called him a "nigger." The black man turned out to be a city councilman. The case was unusual only in that it made the papers. Either America is a very democratic country, where cab drivers beat up city councilmen with impunity, or the privileges of whiteness reach far down into the ranks of the laboring class.

We are anti-white, but we are not in general against the people who are called white. Those for whom the distinction is too subtle are advised to read the speeches of Malcolm X. No one ever spoke more harshly and critically to black people, and no one ever loved them more. It is no part of love to flatter and withhold from people what they need to know. President Samora Machel of Mozambique pointed out that his people had to die as tribes in order to be born as a nation. Similar things were said at the time Afro-Americans in mass rejected the term "Negro" in favor of "black." We seek to draw upon that tradition, as well as - we do not deny it - an even older tradition, which declares that a person must die so that he or she can be born again. We hold that so-called whites must cease to exist as whites in order to realize themselves as something else; to put it another way: white people must commit suicide as whites in order to come alive as workers, or youth, or women, or whatever other identity can induce them to change from the miserable, petulant, subordinated creatures they now are into freely associated, fully developed human subjects.

If abolitionism is distinct from White Studies, it is also distinct from what is called "anti-racism."

The white race is neither a biological nor a cultural formation; it is a strategy for securing to some an advantage in a competitive society. It has held down more whites than blacks. Abolitionism is also a strategy: its aim is not racial harmony but class war. By attacking whiteness, the abolitionists seek to undermine the main pillar of capitalist rule in this country.

If abolitionism is distinct from White Studies, it is also distinct from what is called "anti-racism." There now exist a number of publications, organizing programs and research centers that focus their energies on identifying and opposing individuals and groups they call "racist." Sometimes they share information and collaborate with official state agencies. We stand apart from that tendency. In our view, any "anti-racist" work that does not entail opposition to the state reinforces the authority of the state, which is the most important agency in maintaining racial oppression.

The simple fact is that the public schools and the welfare departments are doing more harm to black children than all the "racist" groups combined.

Just as the capitalist system is not a capitalist plot, so racial oppression is not the work of "racists." It is maintained by the principal institutions of society, including the schools (which define "excellence"), the labor market (which defines "employment"), the legal system (which defines "crime"), the welfare system (which defines "poverty"), the medical industry (which defines "health"), and the family (which defines "kinship"). Many of these institutions are administered by people who would be offended if accused of complicity with racial oppression. It is reinforced by reform programs that address problems traditionally of concern to the "left" - for example, federal housing loan guarantees. The simple fact is that the public schools and the welfare departments are doing more harm to black children than all the "racist" groups combined.

The abolitionists seek to abolish the white race. How can this be done? We must admit that we do not know exactly, but a look at history will be instructive.

When William Lloyd Garrison and the original abolitionists began their work, slavery was the law of the land, and behind the law stood the entire machinery of government, including the courts, the army, and even the post office, which banned anti- slavery literature from Southern mail. The slave states controlled the Senate and Presidency, and Congress refused even to accept petitions relating to slavery. Most northerners considered slavery unjust, but their opposition to it was purely nominal. However much they disapproved of it, the majority "went along," as majorities normally do, rather than risk the ordinary comforts of their lives, meager as they were.

The weak point of the slave system was that it required the collaboration of the entire country, for without the support of the "loyal citizens" of Massachusetts, the slaveholders of South Carolina could not keep their laborers in bondage.

The weak point of the slave system was that it required the collaboration of the entire country, for without the support of the "loyal citizens" of Massachusetts, the slaveholders of South Carolina could not keep their laborers in bondage (just as today without the support of the law-abiding, race discrimination could not be enforced). The abolitionists set to work to break up the national consensus. Wendell Phillips declared that if he could establish Massachusetts as a sanctuary for the fugitive, he could bring down slavery. They sought to nullify the fugitive slave law, which enlisted the northern population directly in enforcing slavery. They encouraged and took part in attempts to rescue fugitives - not, it must be pointed out, from the slaveholders, but from the Law. In all of this activity, the black population took the lead. The concentrated expression of the abolitionist strategy was the slogan, "No Union with Slaveholders," which was not, as has often been charged, an attempt to maintain their moral purity but an effort to break up the Union in order to establish a liberated zone adjacent to the slave states. It was a strategy that would later come to be known as dual power, and neither Garrison's pacifism nor his failure to develop a general critique of the capitalist system should blind us to its revolutionary character.

John Brown's attack on Harpers Ferry was not an aberration but the logical application of the abolitionist strategy. The slaveholders retaliated for it by demanding new guarantees of loyalty from the federal government, including a stronger fugitive slave law, reopening of the slave trade, and especially the expansion of slavery into the territories.

The white race is a club. Certain people are enrolled in it at birth, without their consent, and brought up according to its rules. For the most part they go through life accepting the privileges of membership, without reflecting on the costs.

As Phillips said, Brown "startled the South into madness," precipitating a situation where people were forced to choose between abolition and the domination of the country as a whole by the slaveholders. It was not the abolitionists but the slaveholders who, by the arrogance of their demands, compelled the north to resist. From Harpers' Ferry, each step led inexorably to the next: Southern bullying, Lincoln's election, secession, war, blacks as laborers, soldiers, citizens, voters. The war that began with not one person in a hundred foreseeing the end of slavery was transformed within two years into an anti-slavery war, and a great army marched through the land singing, "As He died to make men holy, let us fight to make men free."

The course of events can never be predicted in other than the broadest outline, but in the essentials, history followed the path charted by the abolitionists. As they foresaw, it was necessary to break up the Union in order to reconstitute it without slavery. When South Carolina announced its secession, Wendell Phillips was forced into hiding to escape the Boston mob that blamed him; two years later he was invited to address Congress on how to win the war. He recommended two measures, both of which were soon implemented: (1) declare the war an anti-slavery war; (2) enlist black soldiers. Has ever a revolutionary been more thoroughly vindicated by history?

The hostility of white laborers toward abolitionism, and their failure to develop a labor abolitionism, was not, as some have claimed, an expression of working-class resentment of bourgeois philanthropists but the reflection of their refusal to view themselves as part of a class with the slaves - just as a century later white labor opposition to school integration showed that the laborers viewed themselves more as whites than as proletarians.

The white race is a club. Certain people are enrolled in it at birth, without their consent, and brought up according to its rules. For the most part they go through life accepting the privileges of membership, without reflecting on the costs. Others, usually new arrivals in the country, pass through a probationary period before "earning" membership; they are necessarily more conscious of their racial standing.

The white club does not require that all members be strong advocates of white supremacy, merely that they defer to the prejudices of others. It is based on one huge assumption: that all those who look white are, whatever their reservations, fundamentally loyal to it.

For an example of how the club works, take the cops. The natural attitude of the police toward the exploited is hostility. All over the world cops beat up poor people; that is their job, and it has nothing to do with color. What is unusual and has to be accounted for is not why they beat up black people but why they don't normally beat up propertyless whites. It works this way: the cops look at a person and then decide on the basis of color whether that person is loyal to the system they are sworn to serve and protect. They don't stop to think if the black person whose head they are whipping is an enemy; they assume it. It does not matter if the victim goes to work every day, pays his taxes and crosses only on the green. Occasionally they bust an outstanding and prominent black person, and the poor whites cheer the event, because it confirms them in their conviction that they are superior to any black person who walks the earth.

On the other hand, the cops don't know for sure if the white person to whom they give a break is loyal to them; they assume it. The non-beating of poor whites is time off for good behavior and an assurance of future cooperation. Their color exempts them to some degree from the criminal class - which is how the entire working class was defined before the invention of race and is still treated in those parts of the world where race, or some functional equivalent, does not exist as a social category. It is a cheap way of buying some people's loyalty to a social system that exploits them.

When it comes to abolishing the white race, the task is not to win over more whites to oppose "racism"; there are "anti-racists" enough already to do the job.

What if the police couldn't tell a loyal person just by color? What if there were enough people around who looked white but were really enemies of official society so that the cops couldn't tell whom to beat and whom to let off? What would they do then? They would begin to "enforce the law impartially," as the liberals say, beating only those who "deserve" it. But, as Anatole France noted, the law, in its majestic equality, forbids both rich and poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. The standard that normally governs police behavior is wealth and its external manifestations - dress, speech, etc. At the present time, the class bias of the law is partially repressed by racial considerations; the removal of those considerations would give it free rein. Whites who are poor would find themselves on the receiving end of police justice as black people now do.

The effect on their consciousness and behavior is predictable. That is not to say that everyone now regarded as "white" would suddenly become a progressive, any more than everyone now "black" is. But with color no longer serving as a handy guide for the distribution of penalties and rewards, European-Americans of the downtrodden class would at last be compelled to face with sober senses their real condition of life and their relations with humankind. It would be the end of race.

When it comes to abolishing the white race, the task is not to win over more whites to oppose "racism"; there are "anti- racists" enough already to do the job. The task is to gather together a minority determined to make it impossible for anyone to be white. It is a strategy of creative provocation, like Wendell Phillips advocated and John Brown carried out.

A traitor to the white race is someone who is nominally classified as white but who defies white rules so strenuously as to jeopardize his or her ability to draw upon the privileges of whiteness.

What would the determined minority have to do? They would have to break the laws of whiteness so flagrantly as to destroy the myth of white unanimity. What would it mean to break the rules of whiteness? It would mean responding to every manifestation of white supremacy as if it were directed against them. On the individual level, it would mean, for instance, responding to an anti-black remark by asking, What makes you think I'm white? On the collective level, it would mean confronting the institutions that reproduce race.

The abolitionists oppose all forms of segregation in the schools, including tracking by "merit," they oppose all mechanisms that favor whites in the job market, including labor unions when necessary, and they oppose the police and courts, which define black people as a criminal class. They not merely oppose these things, but seek to disrupt their functioning. They reject in advance no means of attaining their goal; even when combating "racist" groups, they act in ways that are offensive to official institutions. The willingness to go beyond socially acceptable "anti-racism" is the dividing line between "good whites" and traitors to the white race.

A traitor to the white race is someone who is nominally classified as white but who defies white rules so strenuously as to jeopardize his or her ability to draw upon the privileges of whiteness. The abolitionists recognize that no "white" can individually escape from the privileges of whiteness. The white club does not like to surrender a single member, so that even those who step out of it in one situation can hardly avoid stepping back in later, if for no other reason than the assumptions of others - unless, like John Brown, they have the good fortune to be hanged before that can happen. But they also understand that when there comes into being a critical mass of people who look white but do not act white - people who might be called "reverse oreos" - the white race will undergo fission, and former whites, born again, will be able to take part, together with others, in building a new human community.

For the most part, the following is from PM press:

Noel Ignatiev has been trying for over fifty years, without apparent success, to make a revolution.   Noel has not just been some academic Marxian activist.  He has been active out in the real world.  (Note: I once was a member of the same organization of Noel, and learned much from him)  In addition to contributing to A New Notion, he wrote How the Irish Became White, co-founded and co-edited Race Traitor (American Book Award winner), and edited Lesson of the Hour: Wendell Phillips on Abolition and Strategy. He has written countless articles, leaflets and pamphlets, and lectures widely to both popular and scholarly audiences. He is now back at his day job at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, having recently returned from Lebanon, where he was Edward Said Visiting Professor of American Studies at the American University of Beirut. Rolling Stone magazine named him a “dangerous mind." Before entering the academy he worked for over twenty years in steel mills, farm equipment plants and machine-tool factories. He has two children, Rachel and John Henry.

Friday, January 20, 2012



Today is Political Prisoner Friday.  Every Friday, Scission features the story of a different political prisoner or POW languishing in America's prisons.  

Eric McDavid is a political prisoner serving a whole lot of time currently at Terminal Island in California.  Eric is one of those caught up in the infamous Green Scare and the Patriot Act.  He is serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison for "thought crime," encarcerated for his political beliefs, targeted by an FBI undercover informant who entrapped him unjustly.

All of his appeals have been exhausted and he faces another fourteen years behind bars at this time.

Of Eric,  Support Eric McDavid writes:

Eric McDavid is a political prisoner, currently serving a 20 year sentence in federal prison for “thought crime.” He was arrested in January 2006 (as part of the government's ongoing "Green Scare" campaign against environmental and animal rights activists)...
 Eric  was arrested along with Zachary Jenson and Lauren Weiner .The Denver Anarchist Black Cross reports,
All three were charged with “Conspiracy to damage and destroy property by fire and an explosive.” His arrest was the direct result of a government informant – known only as “Anna” – who spent a year and a half drawing him in and working with the FBI to fabricate a crime and implicate Eric in it. Anna was paid over $65,000 for her work with the FBI. Eric was imprisoned for what amounts to thought-crime – no actions were ever carried out.

Eric McDavid 16209-097
PO BOX 3007

The following is from Break the Chains.

6 Years - A Note from Eric McDavid's Partner

Date: Fri, January 13, 2012

Dear friends,
Today marks the 6th year of Eric’s arrest and incarceration. I’m not quite sure why I always feel compelled to commemorate this day – the memories it awakens bring so much pain, anger and frustration. It is not something I eally want to remember. It is also something I can never forget. That day forever altered the course of Eric’s life – and the lives of all his loved ones.
But I also know that it is our responsibility to remember. To remember why Eric was arrested in the first place – not because anything burned down or was damaged, but because he dared to think he could change things. And that he didn’t have to wait for permission from those who would never give it. Eric was arrested – and sentenced to an inordinate amount of time – because of his politics
We also must remember what it really means to show solidarity – with Eric and all of our other comrades behind bars. We must remember that they are still here. They are all still a part of our movements and we need to act – every day – to include them. And, most importantly, we must carry on the struggles for which they have given so much.
And we need to remember that sometimes things do change overnight. Sometimes our loved ones are ripped from us. There is no way to really prepare for such a heartwrenching experience, but what we can do is remember to use the time we have now to be good to each other. Love fearlessly. Never take for granted the time we share with each other. It is a precious gift.
Recently, Eric and I had something returned to us that was taken 6 years ago. I have no one to thank. It should never have been taken in the first place. But I cannot tell you how overjoyed I was at its return. On November 21st, during our visit at Terminal Island, Eric reached across the “coffee table” sitting between us and grabbed my hands. Eric and I had not been allowed to sit and hold hands in almost 6 years. Human touch is such an integral part of leading a healthy, happy life. Not being able to touch the people you love is tortuous. It is cruel and inhumane. (Imagine watching a loved one cry and not being able to wipe away their tears, or hold their hand…) Touch deepens our connections with each other – it moves beyond language into a realm that words cannot contain or explain. Of course, the powers that be know all of this, which is probably why it was denied us for so long. We are acutely aware that it could be taken away again at any moment. But for now we are reveling in every second of it.
And so I remind myself of this, too – don’t ever take these things for granted.
Eric and I both would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all of you. It is abundantly clear that so many people have not forgotten. Eric continues to get mail from people all across the globe – please keep it coming! He loves hearing from you. You are his connection to the outside world – to the movements and places and ideas he cares about. Keeping those connections is incredibly important to him.
And to all of you who have donated to Eric’s support fund – you have no idea how grateful we are. These donations not only help Eric with things like stamps, food and personal items from commissary and time on the telephone – they also help fund visits for him and his loved ones. These visits are key to keeping everyone sane. It would be impossible for us to visit as often as we do without your help.
Eric and I feel your support on a daily basis. “Thank you” could never be enough…
Eric is 6 years into an almost 20 year sentence. Sometimes that thought is almost overwhelming. But then I remember. I remember Eric and who he is and how he has held onto that throughout this whole ordeal. I remember all of you and how much love and support we have felt coming from all directions. And I remember that we can do this.
With so much love,
jenny (eric’s partner)
Please remember our other friends, too! Marie Mason is turning 50 this month. Visit her website: for more details on how to send her a birthday card or a note of support.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


If I remember correctly, Obama promised that if elected the first thing he would do was close down the detention center at Guantanamo.  I don't think that has happened.  Maybe he will promise if re-elected he will figure out how to get that taken care of in his second term.

I wouldn't hold my breath.

Talking about the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay has sort of gone out of style.  It should be brought right back in style.

Now, sure, we all know and have heard it a million times, there are some really bad guys there.  That is probably true, but you know what there are some not really bad guys who get stuck there, too.

One of those not really bad guys is a fellow named Moazzam Begg.  He is out talking about his experiences there.  Not only that but he is pointing to all the other rendition issues, all the other torture, all the other stuff being carried on in your name by some really bad guys.

When Moazzam talks, you should listen.

I thank CagedPrisoners for the following.

Guantanamo remembered: A personal perspective

Written by Moazzam Begg
Moazzam Begg (right, with his father) has campaigned for those left behind in Guantanamo [GALLO/GETTY] Moazzam Begg (right, with his father) has campaigned for those left behind in Guantanamo [GALLO/GETTY]
“You are now the property of the United States and you have no rights.” These were the first words to greet me and other prisoners held in the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Ten years on little has changed.

My life changed irretrievably on the night of 31st January 2002 when Pakistani and US intelligence agents abducted me from my Islamabad house in the middle of the night, in front of my family, at gunpoint, and took me to a series of secret and military prisons that included Kandahar, Bagram and Guantanamo Bay

After three years of an ordeal that included being, punched and kicked, forcibly stripped, shaved, violated, spat upon; enduring racial and religious abuse, incommunicado incarceration in a cell smaller than an average house toilet; being subjected to over 300 interrogations, sometimes with my wrists shackled to my ankles from behind my back; watching the Quran being desecrated; being threatened with torture in Syria or Egypt; being subjected to the sounds of screams I was lead to believe were members of my family and, watching two prisoners being beaten to death, I was finally returned to the UK and my family – which included a 3-year old son I’d never seen.

Like the overwhelming majority of the prisoners there I was interrogated by the world’s most powerful law enforcement and intelligence agencies: CIA, FBI, MI5, CITF, US military intelligence and many others. I have learned too – since my release – that many other nations were allowed to use the Guantanamo experiment to interrogate dissidents from their own countries, such as Libyan intelligence under Colonel Gaddafi. But, despite the arsenal of weapons – both metaphoric and real – there were never any charges or trial for me.

Shortly after my return I joined the human rights NGO Cageprsioners and found myself establishing strong links with former Guantanamo prisoners all around the world, in addition to their lawyers and the families of those awaiting the return of their loved ones.

What became evident to me early on was that I was facing an internal struggle based on my faith, survivor’s guiltand the quest for natural justice, which has become my resolute aim to date.

Since then and now I have, by the grace of God, travelled the world to campaign for those left behind in Guantanamo. I have toured with former US soldiers who were once Guantanamo prison guards, speaking about the evils of US foreign adventures and have sat with world leaders asking them to take in prisoners unable to return to their countries of origin for fears, ironically, of imprisonment and torture.

I’ve met prisoners from different suspect communities who once faced similar experiences to mine – and worse; I’ve met with victims of British and American rendition who have become leaders of the their country after the Arab spring and, I’ve returned to the house where I was abducted from in Pakistan to record the scene of the crime and, I’ve met with the family of a woman whose screams once echoed through Bagram’s soulless prison.

I’ve earned descriptions as that range from being ‘Mandela-like’ in my lack of bitterness towards my captors to being called a terrorist sympathiser (notwithstanding the little detail that Nelson Mandela’s 27- year imprisonment was as a terrorist under apartheid South Africa) because I advocate dialogue with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban well before deals were being brokered in Qatar to accommodate the latter.

Whatever I’ve seen or done in these years the one thing I’ve not been able to recover is the one thing I’ve been fighting to get back: normality. There’s no such thing any more. After all, what’s normal about expecting your family to understand all that has transpired in the world’s most secret prisons to terrorism suspects, when that is not even possible for ‘ordinary decent criminals’? In addition to the irrepressible sense of camaraderie that exists between us all, this is one of resonating features that unite the former prisoners together: a hushed recognition of one another’s pain.

When men are eventually released how are they supposed to renew their familial relationships when their internal survival mechanism told them to stop believing they were fathers, husbands and sons? How can they rebuild their lives and be part of society again once the world’s most powerful men (and media) have described them as the “worst of the worst” terrorist scumbags who are bent on destroying rather than building?

How do children whose fathers are in Guantanamo explain to their friends that “daddy is in prison” when society by default maintains that prisoners are bad men?

And what of those poor, innocent children whose lost childhoods without a father for so long can never be reclaimed? What can fill the chasm created when the child needed the father most – and he wasn’t there to help?

Speaking of children, the past decade in Guantanamo has witnessed has numerous child-prisoners who have grown into adults behind the razor wire, able-bodied men’s once healthy limbs amputated, perfectly sane men losing their minds and, freedom gained at last, for some, in a coffin.

To mark the tenth anniversary since the first prisoners were sent to Guantanamo, as pictures of men kneeling in orange jumpsuits, masked and goggled – looking like the extra-terrestrial beings we were told they were - shocked the world we will be hosting several events in the UK.

The171 remaining Guantanamo prisoners, however, will be protesting their innocence via one of the few methods available to them: hunger-strike. Even if that means being forcibly restrained in a chair and pumped with liquid food through the nostril to keep them alive – as the living dead men they’ve become in the world’s most notorious prison – which is capable of destroying lives both inside and out - that we, and history, will never forget.
This article also appears on Al Jazeera to coincide with their screenings of the documentary film Four Days in Guantanamo

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Are you tired of hearing about austerity plans?  Not nearly as tired of them as the people who live in countries that are bearing the brunt of these plans.  The working people of Romania are no exception.  They are also no exception to their brothers and sisters in places countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy who have taken to the streets to fight back.  

World Socialist News reports that since the fall of Romania's State Capitalist regime in 1989:

Romania developed into one of the most socially unequal nations in Europe. According to the Gini coefficient, which measures social inequality, Romania ranks alongside Hungary for wealth disparity, and is only exceeded in the region by Poland and Croatia. 

While a tiny elite has profited handsomely, new statistics from Econtext published in January reveal that Romania occupies second place in the European Union in terms of the percentage of people living in poverty—41.4 percent. According to Econtext, this total includes two million pensioners living on less than 100 euros a month. Only neighboring Bulgaria, where 41.6 percent of the population is condemned to poverty, is considered to have lower living standards.

In exchange for a loan of 20 billion euros in 2009, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union are demanding even more austerity measures. The Boc government already cut salaries in the public sector by 25 percent, and pensions by 15 percent in 2010. Now, as a number of major Western companies shift operations out of Romania to set up in even cheaper locations, Boc is proposing fresh cuts to education, culture and health budgets in 2012.
Most of the "protests" which have spread throughout the country have been virtually spontanious.  Some right wing media outlets have called on their supporters to join in.  I have faith the workers will know who are their friends and who are their enemies.

Romanian journalist Ovidu Nahoi quoted in the Christian Science Monitor says:
“The protests aren’t just against one person,Pensions, prices, poverty, injustice, and corruption are all major issues that have been amplified by austerity. People are protesting not just against austerity, but against a political system seen to be corrupt and unjust. They want a new structure of society.”
In Romania, they are talking revolution...and they don't need no stinking vanguard to tell them how to do it.

The following is from CounterFire.

 2 10

‘One solution, another revolution!’ echoed through Romania's streets, as 23 years after Ceausescu, Romanians protested against austerity measures.

Romania protest
Protestors holds a banner reading 'Freedom'
Thousands of protesters waving flags sing the national anthem, ‘Awaken thee, Romanian!’ among burning trash cans and broken windows. No, it’s not historical footage of the 1989 Revolution, but the fourth consecutive day of protests against the Romanian government’s austerity measures.

It all kicked off when Deputy Health Minister Raed Arafat, a widely popular Romanian physician of Palestinian origin, resigned in opposition to a draft healthcare reform bill that represented a partial privatisation of the healthcare system. The protests began on Thursday, with a solidarity demonstration in support of Arafat that took a violent turn. Riot police used tear gas against protesters, who responded by throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails at them. Protesters chanted ‘Down with the thieves! One solution, another revolution!’ and lit candles for heroes of the 1989 rebellion, a series of riots that marked the end of Nicolae Ceausescu’s regime.
Romania riots
On Friday, president Traian Basescu withdrew the healthcare bill, but protests continued and spread across the country, as people jumped at the opportunity to express their anger about various issues, including public sector wage cuts, reduced benefits, increasing youth unemployment, higher value added tax and widespread corruption.

Leaders of the Social Liberal Union, a Romanian political alliance between three opposition parties (the Social Democratic Party, the National Liberal Party and the Conservative Party) condemned the violence, but urged people to take to the streets to overthrow Basescu and the Liberal Democratic Party. Public response to this was, however, extremely negative: a chorus of ‘We hate parties! LDP, SDP, you are all the same to me!’ rang in the centre of Bucharest, Romania’s capital city.

Sunday saw the most violent protests since the 1990s, with thousands demonstrating in 34 counties and increasingly brutal clashes with the riot police. In Bucharest alone, there were 247 arrests and more than 30 injured. The people called for Traian Basescu to resign, 4 years after he became the first president in Romania’s history to be suspended from office and 2 years after his controversial re-election amidst allegations of electoral fraud and general outrage.

The national media blamed ‘football hooligans’ for ‘hijacking’ an otherwise peaceful protest, a move reminiscent of the biased reporting during the 1989 Revolution, but the message is clear and cannot be written off as ‘mindless violence’: Romania is awakening, and joining the global movement against austerity.