The Pronk Pops Show 584, December 1, 2014, Story 1: Part 2 World Wide Watermelon Wacko Wealth Wringers — aka Lying Lunatic Left — Protocol Predators Prowl Paris — Climate Changes Cooling Continues — The Ultimate Resource The Human Mind Will Innovate, Invent, and Invest Toward World Peace and Prosperity — Bill Gates Right On Research and Development and Wrong on Warming — Videos

Posted on December 1, 2015. Filed under: Addiction, Blogroll, Books, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Business, Climate Change, Coal, Coal, College, Communications, Computers, Congress, Corruption, Crime, Economics, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Eugenics, Fiscal Policy, Food, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Government, House of Representatives, Housing, Immigration, Independence, Investments, Labor Economics, Media, Monetary Policy, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, News, Nuclear, Obama, Oil, Oil, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, Pro Life, Progressives, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Scandals, Security, Senate, Solar, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Trade Policy, Videos, Violence, Wall Street Journal, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 584: December 1, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 583: November 30, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 582: November 25, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 581: November 24, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 580: November 23, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 579: November 20, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 578: November 19, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 577: November 18, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 576: November 17, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 575: November 16, 2015  (more…)

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The Pronk Pops Show 539, September 23, 2015, Story 1: Watermelon President Obama and Pope Francis — Green on The Outside and Red On The Inside — Neither Is An Authority On Science, Economics, Or Democides — Cosmic or Social Justice Is Using Coercion and Force To Steal — Leads To Democide and Genocide — Videos

Posted on September 23, 2015. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Communications, Constitutional Law, Culture, Economics, Education, Employment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, History, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Immigration, Media, Medicare, News, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Pro Life, Progressives, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Social Security, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Unemployment, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 539: September 23, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 538: September 22, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 537: September 21, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 536: September 18, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 535: September 17, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 534: September 16, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 533: September 15, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 532: September 14, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 531: September 11, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 530: September 10, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 529: September 9, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 528: September 8, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 527: September 4, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 526: September 3, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 525: September 2, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 524: August 31, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 523: August 27, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 522: August 26, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 521: August 25, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 520: August 24, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 519: August 21, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 518: August 20, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 517: August 19, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 516: August 18, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 515: August 17, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 514: August 14, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 513: August 13, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 512: August 12, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 511: August 11, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 510: August 10, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 509: July 24, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 508: July 20, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 507: July 17, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 506: July 16, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 505: July 15, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 504: July 14, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 503: July 13, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 502: July 10, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 501: July 9, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 500: July 8, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 499: July 6, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 498: July 2, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 497: July 1, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 496: June 30, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 495: June 29, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 494: June 26, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 493: June 25, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 492: June 24, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 491: June 23, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 490: June 22, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 489: June 19, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 488: June 18, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 487: June 17, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 486; June 16, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 485: June 15, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 484: June 12, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 483: June 11, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 482; June 10, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 481: June 9, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 480: June 8, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 479: June 5, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 478: June 4, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 477: June 3, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 476: June 2, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 475: June 1, 2015

Story 1: Watermelon President Obama and Pope Francis — Green on The Outside and Red On The Inside — Neither Is An Authority On Science, Economics, Or Democides — Cosmic or Social Justice Is Using Coercion and Force To Steal — Leads To Democide and Genocide — Videos

Lord Acton on “Power Corrupts”

I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.

letter that Acton wrote to Bishop Creighton

faces of socialism

In The Shoes of the Fisherman (Last Scene)

Pope Francis in the USA- Welcome ceremony and visit to the President

Milton Friedman – Collectivism

AYN RAND PREDICTS OBAMAS END TO THE REPUBLIC

Milton Friedman – Socialism is Force

Milton Friedman discusses the moral values encouraged by economic systems and explains that a primary difference between capitalism and socialism is the difference between free choice and compulsory force.

Milton Friedman – Whats wrong with welfare? (Q&A)

Milton Friedman on Donahue #2

Milton Friedman Speaks – Is Capitalism Humane?

Rush Limbaugh Bashes Pope Francis

Milton Friedman on Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” 1994 Interview 1 of 2

Milton Friedman on Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” 1994 Interview 2 of 2

Friedrich Hayek: Why Intellectuals Drift Towards Socialism

Friedrich Hayek on Redistribution of Wealth

F A Hayek – Social Justice

Thomas Sowell – The Quest for Cosmic Justice (Full Video)

The reason Social Justice is fundamentally incompatible with equality of opportunity.

Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions

The Life & Thought of Friedrich Hayek

Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs – Updated 2010

Immigration by the Numbers — Off the Charts

Watermelons

ManBearPig, Climategate and Watermelons: A conversation with author James Delingpole

James Delingpole is a bestselling British author and blogger who helped expose the Climategate scandal back in 2009. Reason.tv caught up with Delingpole in Los Angeles recently to learn more about his entertaining and provocative new book Watermelons: The Green Movement’s True Colors. At its very roots, argues Delingpole, climate change is an ideological battle, not a scientific one. In other words, it’s green on the outside and red on the inside. At the end of the day, according to Delingpole, the “watermelons” of the modern environmental movement do not want to save the world. They want to rule it.

MAJOR REDUCTIONS IN CARBON EMISSIONS ARE NOT WORTH THE MONEY 4 /14- Intelligence Squared U.S.

Climate Change in 12 Minutes – The Skeptic’s Case

James Delingpole: Great Britain, the Green Movement, and the End of the World

Richard Lindzen, Ph.D. Lecture Deconstructs Global Warming Hysteria (High Quality Version)

Mind blowing speech by Robert Welch in 1958 predicting Insiders plans to destroy America

The Ten Planks of the 
Communist Manifesto
1848 by Karl Heinrich Marx

List of short-term demands, also known as the ten planks:

1. Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.

2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6. Centralisation of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the State.

7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

8. Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.

10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Communist_Manifesto

The Left Has Its Pope

By Thomas Sowell

Pope Francis has created political controversy, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, by blaming capitalism for many of the problems of the poor. We can no doubt expect more of the same during his visit to the United States.

Pope Francis is part of a larger trend of the rise of the political left among Catholic intellectuals. He is, in a sense, the culmination of that trend.
There has long been a political left among Catholics, as among other Americans. Often they were part of the pragmatic left, as in the many old Irish-run, big city political machines that dispensed benefits to the poor in exchange for their votes, as somewhat romantically depicted in the movie classic, “The Last Hurrah.”

But there has also been a more ideological left. Where the Communists had their official newspaper, “The Daily Worker,” there was also “The Catholic Worker” published by Dorothy Day.

A landmark in the evolution of the ideological left among Catholics was a publication in the 1980s, by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, titled “Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy.”

Although this publication was said to be based on Catholic teachings, one of its principal contributors, Archbishop Rembert Weakland, said: “I think we should be up front and say that really we took this from the Enlightenment era.”

The specifics of the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter reflect far more of the secular Enlightenment of the 18th century than of Catholic traditions. Archbishop Weakland admitted that such an Enlightenment figure as Thomas Paine “is now coming back through a strange channel.”

Strange indeed. Paine rejected the teachings of “any church that I know of,” including “the Roman church.” He said: “My own mind is my own church.” Nor was Paine unusual among the leading figures of the 18th century Enlightenment.

To base social or moral principles on the philosophy of the 18th century Enlightenment, and then call the result “Catholic teachings” suggests something like bait-and-switch advertising.

But, putting aside religious or philosophical questions, we have more than two centuries of historical evidence of what has actually happened as the ideas of people like those Enlightenment figures were put into practice in the real world — beginning with the French Revolution and its disastrous aftermath.

Both the authors of the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter in the 1980s, and Pope Francis today, blithely throw around the phrase “the poor,” and blame poverty on what other people are doing or not doing to or for “the poor.”

Any serious look at the history of human beings over the millennia shows that the species began in poverty. It is not poverty, but prosperity, that needs explaining. Poverty is automatic, but prosperity requires many things — none of which is equally distributed around the world or even within a given society.

Geographic settings are radically different, both among nations and within nations. So are demographic differences, with some nations and groups having a median age over 40 and others having a median age under 20. This means that some groups have several times as much adult work experience as others.

Cultures are also radically different in many ways.

As distinguished economic historian David S. Landes put it, “The world has never been a level playing field.” But which has a better track record of helping the less fortunate — fighting for a bigger slice of the economic pie, or producing a bigger pie?

In 1900, only 3 percent of American homes had electric lights but more than 99 percent had them before the end of the century. Infant mortality rates were 165 per thousand in 1900 and 7 per thousand by 1997. By 2001, most Americans living below the official poverty line had central air conditioning, a motor vehicle, cable television with multiple TV sets, and other amenities.

A scholar specializing in the study of Latin America said that the official poverty level in the United States is the upper middle class in Mexico. The much criticized market economy of the United States has done far more for the poor than the ideology of the left.

Pope Francis’ own native Argentina was once among the leading economies of the world, before it was ruined by the kind of ideological notions he is now promoting around the world.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/09/22/the_left_has_its_pope_128160.html

Pope Francis’s fact-free flamboyance

Opinion writer

Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak — if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill.

Supporters of Francis have bought newspaper and broadcast advertisements to disseminate some of his woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies. One example: “People occasionally forgive, but nature never does.” The Vatican’s majesty does not disguise the vacuity of this. Is Francis intimating that environmental damage is irreversible? He neglects what technology has accomplished regarding London’s air (see Page 1 of Dickens’s “Bleak House”) and other matters.

George F. Will writes a twice-weekly column on politics and domestic and foreign affairs. He began his column with The Post in 1974, and he received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1977. He is also a contributor to FOX News’ daytime and primetime programming.View Archive

And the Earth is becoming “an immense pile of filth”? Hyperbole is a predictable precursor of yet anotherU.N. Climate Change Conference — the 21st since 1995. Fortunately, rhetorical exhibitionism increases as its effectiveness diminishes. In his June encyclical and elsewhere, Francis lectures about our responsibilities, but neglects the duty to be as intelligent as one can be.This man who says “the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions” proceeds as though everything about which he declaims is settled, from imperiled plankton to air conditioning being among humanity’s “harmful habits.” The church that thought it was settled science that Galileo was heretical should be attentive to all evidence.

Francis deplores “compulsive consumerism,” a sin to which the 1.3 billion persons without even electricity can only aspire. He leaves the Vatican to jet around praising subsistence farming, a romance best enjoyed from 30,000 feet above the realities that such farmers yearn to escape.

The saint who is Francis’s namesake supposedly lived in sweet harmony with nature. For most of mankind, however, nature has been, and remains, scarcity, disease and natural — note the adjective — disasters. Our flourishing requires affordable, abundant energy for the production of everything from food to pharmaceuticals. Poverty has probably decreased more in the past two centuries than in the preceding three millennia because of industrialization powered by fossil fuels. Only economic growth has ever produced broad amelioration of poverty, and since growth began in the late 18th century, it has depended on such fuels.

Matt Ridley, author of “The Rational Optimist,” notes that coal supplanting wood fuel reversed deforestation, and that “fertilizer manufactured with gas halved the amount of land needed to produce a given amount of food.” The capitalist commerce that Francis disdains is the reason the portion of the planet’s population living in “absolute poverty” ($1.25 a day) declined from 53 percent to 17 percent in three decades after 1981. Even in low-income countries, writes economist Indur Goklany, life expectancy increased from between 25 to 30 years in 1900 to 62 years today. Sixty-three percent of fibers are synthetic and derived from fossil fuels; of the rest, 79 percent come from cotton, which requires synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. “Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides derived from fossil fuels,” he says, “are responsible for at least 60 percent of today’s global food supply.” Without fossil fuels, he says, global cropland would have to increase at least 150 percent — equal to the combined land areas of South America and the European Union — to meet current food demands.

Francis grew up around the rancid political culture of Peronist populism, the sterile redistributionism that has reduced his Argentina from the world’s 14th highest per-capita gross domestic product in 1900 to 63rd today. Francis’s agenda for the planet — “global regulatory norms” — would globalize Argentina’s downward mobility.

As the world spurns his church’s teachings about abortion, contraception, divorce, same-sex marriage and other matters, Francis jauntily makes his church congruent with the secular religion of “sustainability.” Because this is hostile to growth, it fits Francis’s seeming sympathy for medieval stasis, when his church ruled the roost, economic growth was essentially nonexistent and life expectancy was around 30.

Francis’s fact-free flamboyance reduces him to a shepherd whose selectively reverent flock, genuflecting only at green altars, is tiny relative to the publicity it receives from media otherwise disdainful of his church. Secular people with anti-Catholic agendas drain his prestige, a dwindling asset, into promotion of policies inimical to the most vulnerable people and unrelated to what once was the papacy’s very different salvific mission.

He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/pope-franciss-fact-free-flamboyance/2015/09/18/7d711750-5d6a-11e5-8e9e-dce8a2a2a679_story.html

Obama’s welcoming speech to Pope Francis, and the pope’s reply

President Barack Obama’s remarks came first Wednesday morning at the White House. Pope Francis’ own comments are below the president’s.

Obama

Good morning! What a beautiful day the Lord has made! Holy Father, on behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House. Our backyard is not typically this crowded – but the size and spirit of today’s gathering is just a small reflection of the deep devotion of some 70 million American Catholics . . . and the way your message of love and hope has inspired so many people, across our nation and around the world. On behalf of the American people, it is my great honor and privilege to welcome you to the United States of America.

Today, we mark many firsts. Your Holiness, you have been celebrated as the first pope from the Americas. This is your first visit to the United States. And you are also the first pontiff to share an encyclical through a Twitter account.

Holy Father, your visit not only allows me, in some small way, to reciprocate the extraordinary hospitality you extended to me at the Vatican last year. It also reveals how much all Americans, from every background and of every faith, value the role that the Catholic Church plays in strengthening America. From my time working in impoverished neighborhoods with the Catholic Church in Chicago to my travels as president, I’ve seen firsthand how, every day, Catholic communities, priests, nuns and laity feed the hungry, heal the sick, shelter the homeless, educate our children and fortify the faith that sustains so many.

What is true in America is true around the world. From the busy streets of Buenos Aires to remote villages in Kenya, Catholic organizations serve the poor, minister to prisoners, build schools and homes, and operate orphanages and hospitals. And just as the Church has stood with those struggling to break the chains of poverty, it has given voice and hope to those seeking to break the chains of violence and oppression.

And yet, I believe the excitement around your visit must be attributed not only to your role as pope, but to your unique qualities as a person. In your humility, your embrace of simplicity, the gentleness of your words and the generosity of your spirit, we see a living example of Jesus’ teachings, a leader whose moral authority comes not just through words but also through deeds.

You call on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to put the “least of these” at the center of our concern. You remind us that in the eyes of God our measure as individuals, and as societies, is not determined by wealth or power or station or celebrity, but by how well we hew to Scripture’s call to lift up the poor and the marginalized, to stand up for justice and against inequality, and to ensure that every human being is able to live in dignity – because we are all made in the image of God.

You remind us that “the Lord’s most powerful message” is mercy. That means welcoming the stranger with empathy and a truly open heart – from the refugee who flees war-torn lands to the immigrant who leaves home in search of a better life. It means showing compassion and love for the marginalized and the outcast, those who have suffered and those who seek redemption.

You remind us of the costs of war, particularly on the powerless and defenseless, and urge us toward the imperative of peace. Holy Father, we are grateful for your invaluable support of our new beginning with the Cuban people, which holds out the promise of better relations between our countries, greater cooperation across our hemisphere and a better life for the Cuban people. We thank you for your passionate voice against the deadly conflicts that ravage the lives of so many men, women and children; and your call for nations to resist the sirens of war and resolve disputes through diplomacy.

You remind us that people are only truly free when they can practice their faith freely. Here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty. Yet around the world at this very moment, children of God, including Christians, are targeted and even killed because of their faith. Believers are prevented from gathering at their places of worship. The faithful are imprisoned. Churches are destroyed. So we stand with you in defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and intimidation.

And, Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet – God’s magnificent gift to us. We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations.

Your Holiness, in your words and deeds, you set a profound moral example. And in these gentle but firm reminders of our obligations to God and to one another, you are shaking us out of complacency. All of us may, at times, experience discomfort when we contemplate the distance between how we lead our daily lives and what we know to be true and right. But I believe such discomfort is a blessing, for it points to something better. You shake our conscience from slumber; you call on us to rejoice in Good News, and give us confidence that we can come together, in humility and service, and pursue a world that is more loving, more just, and more free. Here at home and around the world, may our generation heed your call to “never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope!”

For that great gift of hope, Holy Father, we thank you, and welcome you, with joy and gratitude, to the United States of America.

Pope Francis

Good morning. Mr. President, I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of the all Americans. As a son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.

I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue in which I hope to listen to and share many of the hopes and dreams of the American people. During my visit, I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the eighth World Meeting of Families to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this critical moment in the history of our civilization.

Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of goodwill, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and the right to religious liberty. That freedom reminds one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.

Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generation. When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the change needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.

Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded, which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities, our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Rev. Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note, and now is the time to honor it.

We know by faith that the Creator does not abandon us; He never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity has the ability to work together in building our common home. As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.

Mr. President, the efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom.

I would like all men and women of goodwill in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.

Mr. President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America.

Read Pope Francis’ Speech That He Gave at the White House

Obama to Bask in Pope’s Aura, But Francis Wants Economic Justice

When Pope Francis meets Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday, the president will bask in his guest’s moral authority and iconic popularity. But the first pontiff from Latin America is likely to exploit those assets to pressure his host on U.S. global economic leadership.

On Francis’s first full day in the country, Obama and as many as 15,000 guests will welcome him on the South Lawn of the White House. For the president, it’s an opportunity to showcase the pope’s support for his initiatives on income inequality, immigration and climate change.

“These are issues that are going to define our future, and the pope I think is providing an incredible sense of motivation that they can and must be addressed,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said in a conference call with reporters. “The pope’s voice could not be more timely and important.”

Contentious issues involving Church doctrine on the family — such as abortion rights and contraception coverage — will be swept under the carpet of the Oval Office. But the pope, who called for “a poor Church for the poor” on his election, is expected to elevate his concern for the downtrodden and the excluded for a global audience.

“There are points of tension, and the role of the U.S. as a world leader in economic justice is certainly going to be an issue — how much the U.S. is doing will be on the pope’s mind,” said veteran Vatican watcher John Thavis, author of The Vatican Prophecies. “The U.S. is in a position to drive some of these discussions, and the pope would like to see some leadership.”

At the White House on Wednesday morning, crowds began gathering well before sunrise to clear the security checkpoints before assembling on the South Lawn. A group of drummers banged on their instruments near the Treasury Department, and a man with a bullhorn disrupted the quiet near Lafayette Square on the north side of the White House complex.

Lines for those holding tickets to the White House ceremony grew after the gates opened at 5 a.m. Yellow and white Vatican flags were flying alongside U.S. flags around the White House ready for Francis’s arrival.

Extraordinary Pulpit

The political heft of the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics will be underscored by crowds that security officials expect to be comparable to a presidential inauguration. Some 150,000 people may congregate on the route of his “popemobile” along the National Mall. Much of downtown Washington will be closed to traffic.

Francis faces a balancing act in crafting his message for the extraordinary pulpit that his first visit to the U.S. affords. He will be the first pope to address Congress, on Thursday, and then speaks to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. He must tailor his criticisms of capitalism’s excesses for a country in which the philosophy is nearly a faith.

“He will make it clear that he is not attacking capitalism as an economic theory, but the way it plays out in the real world — he sees masses of people excluded from the benefits of capitalism, and I think he will say that greed cannot be a motivator in human society,” Thavis said.

Humble Symbol

In one small symbol, Francis chose a humble Fiat 500L to travel from Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, where his plane landed, to the Vatican envoy’s residence in the city. The compact car was dwarfed in his motorcade by the Secret Service’s hulking sport utility vehicles.

The Argentine pope’s priorities are reflected even in his choice of language. At the White House, he will deliver the first speech of his visit in English. But 14 of the 18 speeches scheduled in the country will be in his native Spanish.

“He’s more comfortable that way,” his spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said at a briefing last week. He’s also better able to reach the nation’s largest immigrant group in the language, a top item on his agenda.

It’s also in Spanish that Francis will celebrate his first Mass in the U.S. on Wednesday, and canonize a saint on U.S. soil for the first time, Hispanic missionary Junipero Serra.

Persuading the Hierarchy

Earlier in the day, Francis will speak to approximately 300 U.S. Catholic bishops at a prayer service at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, known to many Americans as the site of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral Mass.

Those remarks are significant, as it is the church’s U.S. hierarchy that is responsible for follow-through on Francis’s priorities through Sunday sermons, religious education programs, Catholic school curricula and parish activities, said Father Tom Reese, a Jesuit priest and a senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter.

“The bishops in the United States over the past 10 years have tended to focus on abortion, gay marriage and this religious freedom issue. He wants them to move in a different direction,” Reese said. “He’s not going to succeed unless the rest of the church gets behind him, particularly the bishops and the priests.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-23/obama-to-bask-in-pope-s-aura-but-francis-wants-economic-justice

White House compares Obama to Pope Francis

By NICOLE DURAN

Pope Francis and President Obama have both dedicated their lives to helping the less fortunate, and that commonality will be central to their meeting Wednesday during the pope’s first visit to the United States, a White House spokesman said hours before Obama left to greet the pontiff as he landed at Andrews Air Force Base Tuesday afternoon.

“[B]oth men have talked, quite publicly, about their commitment to social justice,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in previewing their Oval Office meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning. “And both men have dedicated their, not just their careers, but their lives, to that effort.”

“Certainly the kind of commitment that we’ve seen from Pope Francis is unique and singular,” Earnest allowed “but I think the values that both men live out have some common ground.”

Earnest talked about how Obama turned down high-paying jobs upon graduating law school to instead work in Chicago’s poor South Side, and how Francis is known for advocating on behalf of impoverished communities in his home country of Argentina before ascending through the Roman Catholic Church’s ranks.

“And you know, the president actually worked quite closely with other Catholics in that community, and the president has talked about that quite a bit … this has been a value that has animated the president’s career choices since he was a young man.”

Earnest said Francis’s story is similar.

“[P]rior to rising through the leadership ranks of the Catholic Church … Pope Francis earned a reputation in Latin America [as being someone] willing to roll up his sleeves” to help the less fortunate, “particularly those who were economically destitute,” Earnest said.

Earnest said many in the administration are looking forward to greeting Francis because they feel they are working toward the same goals.

They’re “animated by the same kinds of values that animate the pope,” Earnest said about White House staffers. “And I think that’s why the opportunity to have Pope Francis, somebody who shares those values, here in this building tomorrow, makes for a really special day.”

A crowd of 15,000 is expected to welcome Francis at a ceremony on the White House lawn Wednesday morning.

According to press reports, several hundred people were on hand at Maryland’s Andrews Air Force Base to watch “Shepherd One” land and cheer the pope as he deplaned.

“We love Francis, yes we do,” people reportedly chanted. “We love Francis, how about you?”

In addition to Obama, First Lady Michelle, Vice President Joe Biden his wife Jill, and their extended families, nearly 20 other dignitaries were on hand at Andrews, including all of the Washington and Baltimore areas’ Catholic bishops.

“Ho, ho, hey, hey, welcome to the USA,” the larger crowd chanted, welcoming Francis on his first trip ever to the United States.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/white-house-officials-are-now-comparing-obama-to-the-pope/article/2572634

Pope of the poor arrives in US denying he’s a liberal

By NICOLE WINFIELD and RACHEL ZOL

Pope of the poor arrives in US denying he’s a liberal

he pope of the poor arrived for his first-ever visit to the world’s wealthiest superpower Tuesday denying he is a leftist and riding in a frugal little family car, windows rolled down.

Pope Francis’ chartered plane from Cuba touched down at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, where President Barack Obama and his wife and daughters paid him the rare honor of meeting him at the bottom of the stairs on the red-carpeted tarmac. Presidents usually make important visitors come to them at the White House.

Emerging from the aircraft to loud cheers from a crowd of hundreds, the smiling 78-year-old pontiff removed his skullcap in the windy weather and made his way down the steps in his white robes.

He was welcomed by a military honor guard, chanting schoolchildren, politicians, and Roman Catholic clerics in black robes with vivid sashes of scarlet and purple. Joe Biden, the nation’s first Catholic vice president, and his wife were among those who greeted him.

Eschewing a limousine, the pope climbed into the back of a little Fiat sandwiched between huge black SUVs. He promptly rolled down the windows, enabling the cheering, whooping crowds to see him as his motorcade took him to the Vatican diplomatic mission in Washington, where he will stay while in the nation’s capital.

The choice of car was in keeping with his simple habits and his stand against consumerism. His decision to roll down the windows reflected his penchant for trying to connect to ordinary people despite the tight security around him.

During his six-day, three-city visit to the U.S., the pope will meet with the president on Wednesday, address Congress on Thursday, speak at the United Nations in New York on Friday and take part in a Vatican-sponsored conference on the family in Philadelphia over the weekend.

The Argentine known as the “slum pope” for ministering to the downtrodden in his native Buenos Aires is expected to urge America to take better care of the environment and the poor and return to its founding ideals of religious liberty and open arms toward immigrants.

During the flight, Francis defended himself against conservative criticism that his condemnation of trickle-down economics makes him a communist.

“I am certain that I have never said anything beyond what is in the social doctrine of the church,” he said. He said some may have misinterpreted his writings in a way that makes him sound “a little bit more left-leaning,” but he said that’s wrong.

Joking about doubts in some quarters over whether he is truly Catholic, he said, “If I have to recite the Creed, I’m ready.”

Francis is the fourth pope ever to visit the United States.

Francis’ enormous popularity, propensity for wading into crowds and insistence on using an open-sided Jeep rather than a bulletproof popemobile have complicated things for U.S. law enforcement, which has mounted one of the biggest security operations in American history to keep him safe.

The measures are unprecedented for a papal trip and could make it nearly impossible for many ordinary Americans to get anywhere close to Francis.

For all the attention likely to be paid to Francis’ speeches, including the first address from a pope to Congress, his more personal gestures — visiting with immigrants, prisoners and the homeless — could yield some of the most memorable images of the trip.

“What the pope does in the United States will be more important than what he says,” said Mat Schmalz, a religious studies professor at Holy Cross college in Worcester, Massachusetts. “There are a lot of things he will say about capitalism and about wealth inequality, but many Americans and politicians have already made up their minds on these issues. What I would look for is a particular gesture, an unscripted act, that will move people.”

In Cuba, Francis basked in the adulation of Cubans grateful to him for brokering the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the communist island.

On the plane, though, he told reporters he will not use his speech to Congress to call specifically for the U.S. to lift the Cold War-era trade embargo against Cuba.

He arrives at a moment of bitter infighting across the country over gay rights, immigration, abortion and race relations — issues that are always simmering in the U.S. but have boiled over in the heat of a presidential campaign.

Capitol Hill is consumed by disputes over abortion and federal funding for Planned Parenthood after hidden-camera videos showed its officials talking about the organization’s practice of sending tissue from aborted fetuses to medical researchers. While Francis has staunchly upheld church teaching against abortion, he has recently allowed ordinary priests, and not just bishops, to absolve women of the sin.

Francis’ visit comes three months after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, putting U.S. bishops on the defensive and sharply dividing Americans over how much they should accommodate religious objectors. The pope has strongly upheld church teaching against same-sex marriage but adopted a welcoming tone toward gays themselves, saying, “Who am I to judge?” when asked about a supposedly gay priest.

Americans are also wrestling anew with issues of racism. A series of deaths in recent years of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement has intensified debate over the American criminal justice system. Francis will see that system up close when he meets with inmates at a Pennsylvania prison.

U.S. bishops, meanwhile, expect Francis will issue a strong call for immigration reform, a subject that has heated up with hardline anti-immigrant rhetoric from some of the Republican presidential candidates, especially Donald Trump.

Francis, the first Latin American pope, will be sending a powerful message on that front by delivering the vast majority of his speeches in his native Spanish.

“Our presidential candidates have been using immigrants as a wedge issue,” Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski said. “It’s our hope that the visit of Pope Francis will change this narrative.”

Francis’ most eagerly watched speech will be his address to Congress. Republicans and many conservative Catholics have bristled at his indictment of the excesses of capitalism that he says impoverish people and risk turning the Earth into an “immense pile of filth.” Many conservatives have likewise rejected his call for urgent action against global warming.

Nevertheless, Francis enjoys popularity ratings in the U.S. that would be the envy of any world leader. A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week found 63 percent of Catholics have a favorable view of him, and nearly 8 in 10 approve the direction he is taking the church.

Just how far Francis presses his agenda in Washington is the big question.

Paul Vallely, author of “Pope Francis, The Struggle for the Soul of Catholicism,” predicted both “warmth” and “some finger-wagging” from the pope.

“He won’t necessarily confront people head-on,” Vallely said, “but he’ll change the priorities.”

http://news.yahoo.com/pope-ends-cuban-trip-address-families-heads-us-040511515.html

Pope Francis visits U.S. amid legal challenges to religious freedom


Pope Francis is arriving in the U.S. at a time when the faithful are facing broad challenges in court over the limits of religious liberty.

From the administration’s contraception mandate under Obamacare to the fallout from the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, church-affiliated institutions and individuals are confronting litigation to compel them to carry out policies contrary to their religious beliefs.

Some observers say the pope, with whom President Obama claims to hold a special relationship, shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to speak out in defense of religious liberty in the U.S.

“This is the time, right now,” said Joseph Prud’homme, director of the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. “I think it’s an opportunity for the pope to speak clearly about the right of religious liberty in this country.”

From his behind-the-scenes role in brokering the restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the U.S. to his issuing of an encyclical on the environment in June calling for renewable-fuel subsidies and energy efficiency, Francis has appeared to many to be on the same page with much of Mr. Obama’s agenda.

“He has established a considerable bridge with the secular left with his encyclical on the environment,” Mr. Prud’homme said. “And using that kind of bridge, he needs to now walk across it and say very clearly that the right of religious freedom needs to be guaranteed and the right of individuals to follow their conscience needs to be protected.”

Francis addressed the issue of his ideological leanings Tuesday on the plane from Cuba, saying that while some glosses on his writings and words may have created a view that he is “a little bit more left-leaning,” such narratives are wrong.

“I am certain that I have never said anything beyond what is in the social doctrine of the church,” he asserted, referring to more than 120 years of church criticism of the excesses of capitalism, repeated in various ways by every pope since Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum.

White House aides said the president’s meeting with the pope in the Oval Office on Wednesday will focus on their shared values and won’t address policy specifics.

“Their focus in the context of this meeting will not be about politics, not about specific policies, but rather about the kinds of values that both men have dedicated their lives to championing,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “There is no plan or strategy that’s been put in place to try to stage an event that will advance anybody’s political agenda.”

Mr. Earnest, addressing the Islamic State’s persecution of Christians in Syria and Iraq, said one of the values that Mr. Obama shares with Pope Francis “is a commitment to religious liberty — standing up for the rights of religious minorities around the world.”

“That has long been a value that President Obama has prioritized,” he said.

Whether or not it was timed to coincide with the pope’s arrival, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell gave a speech Tuesday at Howard University’s College of Medicine on progress made under the Affordable Care Act.

The Supreme Court is increasingly likely to take up one or more challenges to the Obamacare contraception mandate. A panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ruled last week that forcing two Missouri organizations to offer contraceptive coverage to employees — even indirectly — would violate the groups’ religious freedoms.

Every other appeals court to consider the issue has ruled in opposition to the 8th Circuit, and the Supreme Court usually steps in to resolve such splits. The other courts have said the administration has done enough to accommodate the objections of religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations such as universities, hospitals and charities.

The Becket Fund’s petitions to the high court involve the Little Sisters of the Poor and Houston Baptist University, both of which are challenging the mandate on religious grounds. The court is expected to decide in October whether to hear one or more of the cases.

“I think it’s unlikely that the court would refuse to address the issue, which is affecting hundreds if not thousands of religious organizations across the country,” Mr. Baxter said.

“The administration shouldn’t be picking and choosing between religious organizations. The bishops who run the dioceses around the country have been exempted from the mandate, there’s no reason why the nuns, like Little Sisters of the Poor, or other religious organizations shouldn’t also be exempt,” he said.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/22/pope-francis-visits-us-amid-legal-challenges-to-re/?page=2

Ten Commandments

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Decalogue” redirects here. For other uses, see Decalogue (disambiguation).

This is an image of a copy of the 1675 Ten Commandments, at the Amsterdam Esnoga synagogue, produced on parchment in 1768 by Jekuthiel Sofer, a prolific Jewish eighteenth century scribe in Amsterdam. It has Hebrew language writing in two columns separated between, and surrounded by, ornate flowery patterns.

This 1768 parchment (612×502 mm) by Jekuthiel Sofer emulated the 1675 Ten Commandments at theAmsterdam Esnoga synagogue.[1]

The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue, are a set of commandments which the Bible describes as being given to the Israelites by God at biblical Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments appear twice in the Hebrew Bible, first atExodus 20:1–17, and then at Deuteronomy 5:4–21. According to Exodus, God inscribed them on two stone tablets, which he gave to Moses. Modern scholarship has found likely influences in Hittite and Mesopotamian laws and treaties, but is divided over exactly when the Ten Commandments were written and who wrote them. According to New Testament writers, the Ten Commandments are clearly attributed to Moses. John 7:19, Mark 7:10, Ephesians 6:2.

They include instructions to worship only God, to honour parents, and to keep the sabbath; as well as prohibitions againstidolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, theft, dishonesty, and coveting. Different religious groups follow different traditions for interpreting and numbering them.

Terminology

The second of two parchment sheets making up 4Q41, it contains Deuteronomy 5:1–6:1

Part of the All Souls Deuteronomy, containing one of the oldest extant copies of the Decalogue

In biblical Hebrew, the Ten Commandments are called עשרת הדברים (transliterated Asereth ha-D’bharîm) and in Rabbinical Hebrew עשרת הדברות (transliterated Asereth ha-Dibroth), both translatable as “the ten words”, “the ten sayings” or “the ten matters”.[2] The Tyndale and Coverdale English translations used “ten verses”. TheGeneva Bible appears to be the first to use “tenne commandements”, which was followed by the Bishops’ Bible and the Authorized Version (the “King James” version) as “ten commandments”. Most major English versions follow the Authorized Version.[3]

The English name “Decalogue” is derived from Greek δεκάλογος, dekalogos, the latter meaning and referring[4] to the Greek translation (in accusative) δέκα λόγους, deka logous, “ten words”, found in theSeptuagint (or LXX) at Exodus 34:28[3] and Deuteronomy 10:4.[5]

The stone tablets, as opposed to the commandments inscribed on them, are called לוחות הברית: Luchot HaBrit, meaning “the tablets of the covenant”.

Passages in Exodus and Deuteronomy

The biblical narrative of the revelation at Sinai begins in Exodus 19 after the arrival of the children of Israel at Mount Sinai (also called Horeb). on the morning of the third day of their encampment, “there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud”, and the people assembled at the base of the mount. After “the LORD[6] came down upon mount Sinai”, Moses went up briefly and returned and prepared the people, and then in Exodus 20 “God spoke” to all the people the words of the covenant, “even ten commandments”[7] as it is written.

The people were afraid to hear more and moved “afar off”, and Moses responded with “Fear not.”[8] Nevertheless, he drew near the “thick darkness” where “the presence of the Lord” was[9] to hear the additional statutes and “judgments”, (Exodus 21–23) all which he “wrote”[10] in the “book of the covenant[11] which he read to the people the next morning, and they agreed to be obedient and do all that the LORD had said. Moses escorted a select group consisting of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and “seventy of the elders of Israel” to a location on the mount where they worshipped “afar off”[12] and they “saw the God of Israel” above a “paved work” like clear sapphire stone. (Exodus 24:1–11)

And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tablets of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. 13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.

— First mention of the tablets in Exodus 24:12–13

The mount was covered by the cloud for six days, and on the seventh day Moses went into the midst of the cloud and was “in the mount forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:16–18) And Moses said, “the LORD delivered unto me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORDspake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.” (Deuteronomy 9:10) Before the full forty days expired, the children of Israel collectively decided that something happened to Moses, and compelled Aaron to fashion a golden calf, and he “built an altar before it” (Ex.32:1–5) and the people “worshipped” the calf. (Ex.32:6–8)

After the full forty days, Moses and Joshua came down from the mountain with the tablets of stone: “And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.” (Ex.32:19) After the events in chapters 32 and 33, the LORD told Moses, “Hew thee two tablets of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tablets the words that were in the first tablets, which thou brakest.” (Ex.34:1) “And he wrote on the tablets, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me.” (Deuteronomy 10:4)

According to Jewish tradition, Exodus 20:1–17 constitutes God’s first recitation and inscription of the ten commandments on the two tablets,[13] which Moses broke in anger with his rebellious nation, and were later rewritten on replacement stones and placed in the ark of the covenant;[14] and Deuteronomy 5:4–20 consists of God’s re-telling of the Ten Commandments to the younger generation who were to enter the Promised Land. The passages in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 contain more than ten imperative statements, totalling 14 or 15 in all.

Traditions for numbering

Different religious traditions divide the seventeen verses of Exodus 20:1–17 and their parallels at Deuteronomy 5:4–21 into ten “commandments” or “sayings” in different ways, shown in the table below. Some suggest that the number ten is a choice to aid memorization rather than a matter of theology.[15][16]

Traditions:

  • S: Septuagint, generally followed by Orthodox Christians.
  • P: Philo, same as the Septuagint, but with the prohibitions on killing and adultery reversed.
  • T: Jewish Talmud, makes the “prologue” the first “saying” or “matter” and combines the prohibition on worshiping deities other than Yahweh with the prohibition on idolatry.
  • A: Augustine follows the Talmud in combining verses 3–6, but omits the prologue as a commandment and divides the prohibition on coveting in two and following the word order of Deuteronomy 5:21 rather than Exodus 20:17.
  • C: Catechism of the Catholic Church, largely follows Augustine.
  • L: Lutherans follow Luther’s Large Catechism, which follows Augustine but omits the prohibition of images[17] and uses the word order of Exodus 20:17 rather than Deuteronomy 5:21 for the ninth and tenth commandments.
  • R: Reformed Christians follow John Calvin‘s Institutes of the Christian Religion, which follows the Septuagint.
The Ten Commandments
S P T A C L R Main article Exodus 20:1-17 Deuteronomy 5:4-21
1 1 (1) I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 2[18] 6[18]
1 1 2 1 1 1 1 Thou shalt have no other gods before me 3[19] 7[19]
2 2 2 1 1 2 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image 4–6[20] 8–10[21]
3 3 3 2 2 2 3 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain 7[22] 11[23]
4 4 4 3 3 3 4 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy 8–11[24] 12–15[25]
5 5 5 4 4 4 5 Honour thy father and thy mother 12[26] 16[27]
6 7 6 5 5 5 6 Thou shalt not kill 13[28] 17[28]
7 6 7 6 6 6 7 Thou shalt not commit adultery 14[29] 18[30]
8 8 8 7 7 7 8 Thou shalt not steal 15[31] 19[32]
9 9 9 8 8 8 9 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour 16[33] 20[34]
10 10 10 10 10 9 10 Thou shalt not covet (neighbor’s house) 17a[35] 21b[36]
10 10 10 9 9 10 10 Thou shalt not covet (neighbor’s wife) 17b[37] 21a[38]
10 10 10 10 10 10 10 Thou shalt not covet (neighbor’s servants, animals, or anything else) 17c[39] 21c[40]
  • All scripture quotes above are from the King James Version. Click on verses at top of columns for other versions.

Religious interpretations

The Ten Commandments concern matters of fundamental importance in both Judaism and Christianity: the greatest obligation (to worship only God), the greatest injury to a person (murder), the greatest injury to family bonds (adultery), the greatest injury to commerce and law (bearing false witness), the greatest inter-generational obligation (honor to parents), the greatest obligation to community (truthfulness), the greatest injury to moveable property (theft).[41]

The Ten Commandments are written with room for varying interpretation, reflecting their role as a summary of fundamental principles.[16][41][42][43] They are not as explicit[41] or detailed as rules[44] or many other biblical laws and commandments, because they provide guiding principles that apply universally, across changing circumstances. They do not specify punishments for their violation. Their precise import must be worked out in each separate situation.[44]

The Bible indicates the special status of the Ten Commandments among all other Old Testament laws in several ways. They have a uniquely terse style.[45] Of all the biblical laws and commandments, the Ten Commandments alone[45] were “written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). And lastly, the stone tablets were placed in the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:21).[45]

Judaism

In Judaism, the Ten Commandments provide God’s universal and timeless standard of right and wrong, unlike the other 613 commandments in the Torah, which include, for example, various duties and ceremonies such as the kashrut dietary laws and now unobservable rituals to be performed by priests in the Holy Temple.[46] They form the basis of Jewish law.[47] Jewish tradition considers the Ten Commandments the theological basis for the rest of the commandments; a number of works (starting with Rabbi Saadia Gaon) have made groupings of the commandments according to their links with the Ten Commandments.[citation needed]

The traditional Rabbinical Jewish belief is that the observance of these commandments and the other mitzvot are required solely of the Jewish people, and that the laws incumbent on humanity in general are outlined in the seven Noahide laws (several of which overlap with the Ten Commandments). In the era of the Sanhedrintransgressing any one of six of the Ten Commandments theoretically carried the death penalty, the exceptions being the First Commandment, honoring your father and mother, saying God’s name in vain, and coveting, though this was rarely enforced due to a large number of stringent evidentiary requirements imposed by theoral law.[48]

The two tablets

Main article: Tablets of Stone

The arrangement of the commandments on the two tablets is interpreted in different ways in the classical Jewish tradition. Rabbi Hanina ben Gamaliel says that each tablet contained five commandments, “but the Sages say ten on one tablet and ten on the other”, that is, that the tablets were duplicates.[49] This can be compared to diplomatic treaties of Ancient Egypt, in which a copy was made for each party.[50]

According to the Talmud, the compendium of traditional Rabbinic Jewish law, tradition, and interpretation, one interpretation of the biblical verse “the tablets were written on both their sides”,[51] is that the carving went through the full thickness of the tablets, yet was miraculously legible from both sides.[52]

Use in Jewish ritual

The Ten Commandments on a glass plate

During the period of the Second Temple, the Ten Commandments were recited daily.[53] The Mishnah records that in the Temple, it was the practice to recite them every day before the reading of the Shema Yisrael (as preserved, for example, in the Nash Papyrus, a Hebrew manuscript fragment from 150–100 BCE found in Egypt, containing a version of the ten commandments and the beginning of the Shema); but that this practice was abolished in the synagogues so as not to give ammunition to heretics who claimed that they were the only important part of Jewish law,[54][55] or to dispute a claim by early Christians that only the Ten Commandments were handed down at Mount Sinai rather than the whole Torah.[53]

In later centuries, rabbis continued to omit the Ten Commandments from daily liturgy in order to prevent a confusion among Jews that they are only bound by the Ten Commandments, and not also by many other biblical and talmudic laws, such as the requirement to observe holy days other than the sabbath.[53]

Today, the Ten Commandments are heard in the synagogue three times a year: as they come up during the readings of Exodus and Deuteronomy, and during the festival of Shavuot.[53] The Exodus version is read in parashat Yitro around late January–February, and on the festival of Shavuot, and the Deuteronomy version in parashat Va’etchanan in August–September. In some traditions, worshipers rise for the reading of the Ten Commandments to highlight their special significance[53] though many rabbis, including Maimonides, have opposed this custom since one may come to think that the Ten Commandments are more important than the rest of the Mitzvot.[56]

In printed Chumashim, as well as in those in manuscript form, the Ten Commandments carry two sets of cantillation marks. The ta’am ‘elyon (upper accentuation), which makes each Commandment into a separate verse, is used for public Torah reading, while the ta’am tachton (lower accentuation), which divides the text into verses of more even length, is used for private reading or study. The verse numbering in Jewish Bibles follows the ta’am tachton. In Jewish Bibles the references to the Ten Commandments are therefore Exodus 20:2–14 and Deuteronomy 5:6–18.

Samaritan

The Samaritan Pentateuch varies in the Ten Commandments passages, both in that the Samaritan Deuteronomical version of the passage is much closer to that in Exodus, and in that Samaritans count as nine commandments what others count as ten. The Samaritan tenth commandment is on the sanctity of Mount Gerizim.

The text of the Samaritan tenth commandment follows:

And it shall come to pass when the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land of the Canaanites whither thou goest to take possession of it, thou shalt erect unto thee large stones, and thou shalt cover them with lime, and thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this Law, and it shall come to pass when ye cross the Jordan, ye shall erect these stones which I command thee upon Mount Gerizim, and thou shalt build there an altar unto the Lord thy God, an altar of stones, and thou shalt not lift upon them iron, of perfect stones shalt thou build thine altar, and thou shalt bring upon it burnt offerings to the Lord thy God, and thou shalt sacrifice peace offerings, and thou shalt eat there and rejoice before the Lord thy God. That mountain is on the other side of the Jordan at the end of the road towards the going down of the sun in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the Arabah facing Gilgal close by Elon Moreh facing Shechem.[57]

Christianity

Christians believe that the Ten Commandments have divine authority and continue to be valid, though they have different interpretations and uses of them.[58]Through most of Christian history, the decalogue has been considered a summary of God’s law and standard of behavior, and has been central to Christian life, piety, and worship.[59]

References in the New Testament

During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explicitly referenced the prohibitions against murder and adultery. In Matthew 19:16-19 Jesus repeated five of the Ten Commandments, followed by that commandment called “the second” (Matthew 22:34-40) after the first and great commandment.

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul the Apostle also mentioned five of the Ten Commandments and associated them with the neighbourly love commandment.

Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

— Romans 13:8-10 KJV

Roman Catholicism

In Roman Catholicism, Jesus freed Christians from Jewish religious law, but not from their obligation to keep the Ten Commandments.[60] They are to the moral order what the creation story is to the natural order.[60]

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church—the official exposition of the Catholic Church‘s Christian beliefs—the Commandments are considered essential for spiritual good health and growth,[61] and serve as the basis for social justice.[62] Church teaching of the Commandments is largely based on the Old and New Testaments and the writings of the early Church Fathers.[63] In the New Testament, Jesus acknowledged their validity and instructed his disciples to go further, demanding a righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees.[64] Summarized by Jesus into two “great commandments” that teach the love of God and love of neighbor,[65] they instruct individuals on their relationships with both.

Orthodox

The Eastern Orthodox Church holds its moral truths to be chiefly contained in the Ten Commandments.[66] A confession begins with the Confessor reciting the Ten Commandments and asking the penitent which of them he has broken.[67]

Protestantism

See also: Law and Gospel

Even after rejecting the Roman Catholic moral theology, giving more importance to biblical law in order to better hear and be moved by the gospel, early Protestant theologians still took the Ten Commandments to be the starting point of Christian moral life.[68] Different versions of Christianity have varied in how they have translated the bare principles into the specifics that make up a full Christian ethic.[68] Where Catholicism emphasizes taking action to fulfill the Ten Commandments, Protestantism uses the Ten Commandments for two purposes: to outline the Christian life to each person, and to make each person realize, through their failure to live that life, that they lack the ability to do it on their own.[68]

A Christian school in India displays the Ten Commandments

Lutheranism

The Lutheran division of the commandments follows the one established by St. Augustine, following the then current synagogue scribal division. The first three commandments govern the relationship between God and humans, the fourth through eighth govern public relationships between people, and the last two govern private thoughts. See Luther’s Small Catechism[69] and Large Catechism.[17]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit]

According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) doctrine, Jesus completed rather than rejected the Mosaic Law.[70] The Ten Commandments are considered eternal gospel principles necessary for exaltation.[71] They appear in the Book of Mosiah 12:34–36,[72] 13:15–16,[73] 13:21–24[74] and Doctrine and Covenants.[71] In Mosiah, a prophet named Abinadi taught the Ten Commandments in the court of King Noah and was martyred for his righteousness.[75] Abinadi knew the Ten Commandments from the brass plates.[76]

In an October, 2010 address, LDS president and prophet Thomas S. Monson taught “The Ten Commandments are just that — commandments. They are not suggestions.”[77]

Strangites[edit]

One Mormon fundamentalist faction, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite), offers a unique version of the Ten Commandments that is not found in any other religious tradition—including other Latter Day Saint churches. In his Book of the Law of the Lord, which Strangite founder James J. Strangclaimed to be the long-lost Plates of Laban described in the Book of Mormon, Strang offers a commandment which no other version of the Ten Commandments has: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,”[78] (which appears in the Hebrew Bible in Leviticus 19:18 and five times in the New Testament). In his “Note on the Decalogue,”[79] Strang asserted that no other version of the Decalogue contains more than nine commandments. He equally speculated that his fourth commandment was lost perhaps as early as Josephus‘ time (circa 37-100 AD). Strang’s version of the Decalogue (together with the rest of his teaching) are rejected by the mainline LDS Church, together with all other non-Strangite Mormon factions.

New Covenant Theology

Main article: New Covenant Theology

New Covenant Theology (NCT) is a recently expressed Christian theological view of redemptive history which claims that all Old Covenant laws have beencancelled[80] in favor of the Law of Christ or New Covenant law of the New Testament. This can be summarized as the ethical expectation found in the New Testament. New Covenant Theology does not reject all religious law, they only reject Old Covenant law. NCT is in contrast with other views on biblical law in that most others do not believe the Ten Commandments and Divine laws of the Old Covenant have been cancelled and prefer the term “Supersessionism” (rather than “cancelled” or “abrogated”) for the rest. In 2001, Richard Barcellos, an associate professor and pastor of a Reformed Baptist Church in California, published a critique of NCT for proposing that the Ten Commandments have been cancelled.[81]

Islam

The Qur’an includes a version of the Ten Commandments in sura Al-An’am 6:151:

  • “Say: “Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from”: Join not anything with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them;- come not nigh to indecent deeds. Whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom. And come not nigh to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he attain the age of full strength; give measure and weight with (full) justice;- no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear;- whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfill the Covenant of Allah. thus doth He command you, that ye may remember.”[82]

Another Chapter of The Qur’an also includes a version of the Ten Commandments in Al-Isra According to Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Abbas °the verses of Chapter 17Al-Isra are the Quranic version of the ten Commandments[83] Commandment 1 Verse 22 “Set not up with Allah any other ilah (god), (O man)!”[84] Commandment 2Verse 23 “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour.” Verse 24 “And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.”[85] Commandment 3 Verse 26 “And give to the kindred his due and to the Miskin (poor) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift .”[86] Commandment 4 Verse 29“And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty.”[87] Commandment 5 Verse 31 “And kill not your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Surely, the killing of them is a great sin.”[88]Commandment 6 Verse 32 “And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse.”[89] Commandment 7 Verse 33 “And do not kill anyone which Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause.”[90] Commandment 8 Verse 34 “And come not near to the orphan’s property except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength.”[91] Commandment 9 Verse 35 “And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight.”[92] Commandment 10 Verse 36“And follow not (O man i.e., say not, or do not or witness not, etc.) that of which you have no knowledge (e.g. one’s saying: “I have seen,” while in fact he has not seen, or “I have heard,” while he has not heard). Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those you will be questioned (by Allah).”[93]

:22-37[94]

Main points of interpretative difference

Sabbath day

Main articles: Sabbath in Christianity and Shabbat

Sabbath in Christianity is a weekly day of rest or religious observance, derived from the sabbath.[95] Non-Sabbatarianism is the principle of Christian liberty from being bound to physical sabbath observance. Most dictionaries provide both first-day and seventh-day definitions for “sabbath” and “Sabbatarian”, among other related uses.

Until the 2nd and 3rd century, Christians kept the Jewish Sabbath[citation needed], which occurs from Friday night to Saturday night each week. Observing the Sabbath on Sunday, the day of resurrection, gradually became the dominant Christian practice from the Jewish-Roman wars onward. Before then, Christianity was predominantly still a Jewish sect. The Church’s general repudiation of Jewish practices during this period is apparent in the Council of Laodicea (4th Century AD) where Canons 37–38 state: “It is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them” and “It is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety”.[96]

Canon 29 of the Laodicean council specifically refers to the sabbath: “Christians must not judaize by resting on the [Jewish] Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honoring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema (excommunicated) from Christ.”[96]

Killing or murder

Main article: You shall not murder

The Sixth Commandment, as translated by the Book of Common Prayer (1549).
The image is from the altar screen of the Temple Church near the Law Courts in London.

Multiple translations exist of the fifth/sixth commandment; the Hebrew words לא תרצח (lo tirtzach) are variously translated as “thou shalt not kill” or “thou shalt not murder”.[97]

The imperative is against unlawful killing resulting in bloodguilt.[98] The Hebrew Bible contains numerous prohibitions against unlawful killing, but also allows for justified killing in the context of warfare (1Kings 2:5–6), capital punishment(Leviticus 20:9–16) and self-defence (Exodus 22:2–3). The New Testament is in agreement that murder is a grave moral evil,[99] and maintains the Old Testament view of bloodguilt.[100]

You shall not steal

Main article: You shall not steal

Significant voices among academic theologians (such as German Old Testament scholar Albrecht Alt: Das Verbot des Diebstahls im Dekalog (1953)) suggest that commandment “you shall not steal” was originally intended against stealing people—against abductions and slavery, in agreement with the Talmudic interpretation of the statement as “you shall not kidnap” (Sanhedrin 86a).

Idolatry

In Christianity’s earliest centuries, some Christians had informally adorned their homes and places of worship with images of Christ and the saints, while some thought it inappropriate. No church council had ruled on whether such practices constituted idolatry. The controversy reached crisis level in the 8th century, during the period of iconoclasm: the smashing of icons.[101]

In 726, Emperor Leo III ordered all images removed from all churches; in 730, a council forbade veneration of images, citing the Second Commandment; in 787, theSeventh Ecumenical Council reversed the preceding rulings, condemning iconoclasm and sanctioning the veneration of images; in 815, Leo V called yet another council, which reinstated iconoclasm; in 843, Empress Theodora again reinstated veneration of icons.[101] This mostly settled the matter until the Protestant Reformation, when John Calvin declared that the ruling of the Seventh Ecumenical Council “emanated from Satan”.[101] Protestant iconoclasts at this time destroyed statues, pictures, stained glass, and artistic masterpieces.[101]

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Theodora’s restoration of the icons every year on the First Sunday of Great Lent.[101] Eastern Orthodox tradition teaches that while images of God, the Father, remain prohibited, depictions of Jesus as the incarnation of God as a visible human are permissible. To emphasize the theological importance of the incarnation, the Orthodox Church encourages the use of icons in church and private devotions, but prefers a two-dimensional depiction[102] as a reminder of this theological aspect. Icons depict the spiritual dimension of their subject rather than attempting a naturalistic portrayal.[101] In modern use (usually as a result of Roman Catholic influence), more naturalistic images and images of the Father, however, also appear occasionally in Orthodox churches, but statues, i.e. three-dimensional depictions, continue to be banned.[102]

The Roman Catholic Church holds that one may build and use “likenesses”, as long as the object is not worshipped. Many Roman Catholic Churches and services feature images; some feature statues. For Roman Catholics, this practice is understood as fulfilling the Second Commandment, as they understand that these images are not being worshipped.[citation needed]

For Jews and Muslims, veneration violates the Second Commandment. Jews and Muslims read this commandment as prohibiting the use of idols and images in any way. For this reason, Jewish Temples and Islamic Mosques do not have pictures of God, saints or prophets.[citation needed]

Some Protestants will picture Jesus in his human form, while refusing to make any image of God or Jesus in Heaven.[citation needed]

Strict Amish people forbid any sort of image, such as photographs.[citation needed]

Adultery

Originally this commandment forbade male Israelites to have sexual intercourse with the wife of another Israelite, though Israelite men were not forbidden to have sexual intercourse with the slaves belonging to their own household. Sexual intercourse between an Israelite man, even if he was married, and an unmarried or unbetrothed woman was not considered as adultery.[103] This concept of adultery stems from the economic aspect of Israelite marriage, as adultery constituted a violation of the husband’s exclusive right to his wife, whereas the wife, as the husband’s possession, had no such right.[104]

Critical historical analysis

Early theories

Critical scholarship is divided over its interpretation of the ten commandment texts.

In Julius Wellhausen‘s classic documentary hypothesis of the formation of the Pentateuch (see JEDP), first published in 1878, Exodus 20-23 and 34 were composed by the J or Jahwist writer and “might be regarded as the document which formed the starting point of the religious history of Israel.”[105] Deuteronomy 5 then reflects King Josiah’s attempt to link the document produced by his court to the older Mosaic tradition.

In a 2002 analysis of the history of this position, Bernard M. Levinson argued that this reconstruction assumes a Christian perspective, and dates back to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe‘s polemic against Judaism, which asserted that religions evolve from the more ritualistic to the more ethical. Goethe thus argued that the Ten Commandments revealed to Moses at Mt. Sinai would have emphasized rituals, and that the “ethical” Decalogue Christians recite in their own churches was composed at a later date, when Israelite prophets had begun to prophesy the coming of the messiah, Jesus Christ. Levinson points out that there is no evidence, internal to the Hebrew Bible or in external sources, to support this conjecture. He concludes that its vogue among later critical historians represents the persistence of this polemic that the supersession of Judaism by Christianity is part of a longer history of progress from the ritualistic to the ethical.[106]

By the 1930s, historians who accepted the basic premises of multiple authorship had come to reject the idea of an orderly evolution of Israelite religion. Critics instead began to suppose that law and ritual could be of equal importance, while taking different form, at different times. This means that there is no longer any a priori reason to believe that Exodus 20:2–17 and Exodus 34:10–28 were composed during different stages of Israelite history. For example, critical historian John Bright also dates the Jahwist texts to the tenth century BCE, but believes that they express a theology that “had already been normalized in the period of the Judges” (i.e., of the tribal alliance).[107] He concurs about the importance of the decalogue as “a central feature in the covenant that brought together Israel into being as a people”[108] but views the parallels between Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, along with other evidence, as reason to believe that it is relatively close to its original form and Mosaic in origin.[109]

Hittite treaties

According to John Bright, however, there is an important distinction between the Decalogue and the “book of the covenant” (Exodus 21-23 and 34:10–24). The Decalogue, he argues, was modeled on the suzerainty treaties of the Hittites (and other Mesopotamian Empires), that is, represents the relationship between God and Israel as a relationship between king and vassal, and enacts that bond.[110]

“The prologue of the Hittite treaty reminds his vassals of his benevolent acts.. (compare with Exodus 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery”). The Hittite treaty also stipulated the obligations imposed by the ruler on his vassals, which included a prohibition of relations with peoples outside the empire, or enmity between those within.”[111] (Exodus 20:3: “You shall have no other gods before Me”). Viewed as a treaty rather than a law code, its purpose is not so much to regulate human affairs as to define the scope of the king’s power.[112]

Julius Morgenstern argued that Exodus 34 is distinct from the Jahwist document, identifying it with king Asa’s reforms in 899 BCE.[113] Bright, however, believes that like the Decalogue this text has its origins in the time of the tribal alliance. The book of the covenant, he notes, bears a greater similarity to Mesopotamian law codes (e.g. the Code of Hammurabi which was inscribed on a stone stele). He argues that the function of this “book” is to move from the realm of treaty to the realm of law: “The Book of the Covenant (Ex., chs. 21 to 23; cf. ch. 34), which is no official state law, but a description of normative Israelite judicial procedure in the days of the Judges, is the best example of this process.”[114] According to Bright, then, this body of law too predates the monarchy.[115]

Hilton J. Blik writes that the phrasing in the Decalogue’s instructions suggests that it was conceived in a mainly polytheistic milieu, evident especially in the formulation of “no-other-gods-before-me” commandment.[116]

Dating

If the Ten Commandments are based on Hittite forms that would date it somewhere between the 14th-12th century BCE.[117] Archaeologists Israel Finkelstein andNeil Asher Silberman argue that “the astonishing composition came together … in the seventh century BCE”.[118] Critical scholar Yehezkel Kaufmann (1960) dates the oral form of the covenant to the time of Josiah.[119] An even later date (after 586 BCE) is suggested by David H. Aaron.[120]

The Ritual Decalogue

Main article: Ritual Decalogue

Some proponents of the Documentary hypothesis have argued that the biblical text in Exodus 34:28[121] identifies a different list as the ten commandments, that of Exodus 34:11–27.[122] Since this passage does not prohibit murder, adultery, theft, etc., but instead deals with the proper worship of Yahweh, some scholars call it the “Ritual Decalogue“, and disambiguate the ten commandments of traditional understanding as the “Ethical Decalogue”.[123][124][125][126]

According to these scholars the Bible includes multiple versions of events. On the basis of many points of analysis including linguistic it is shown as a patchwork of sources sometimes with bridging comments by the editor (Redactor) but otherwise left intact from the original, frequently side by side.[127]

Richard Elliott Friedman argues that the Ten Commandments at Exodus 20:1–17 “does not appear to belong to any of the major sources. It is likely to be an independent document, which was inserted here by the Redactor.”[128] In his view, the Covenant Code follows that version of the Ten Commandments in the northern Israel E narrative. In the J narrative in Exodus 34 the editor of the combined story known as the Redactor (or RJE), adds in an explanation that these are a replacement for the earlier tablets which were shattered. “In the combined JE text, it would be awkward to picture God just commanding Moses to make some tablets, as if there were no history to this matter, so RJE adds the explanation that these are a replacement for the earlier tablets that were shattered.”[129]

He writes that Exodus 34:14–26 is the J text of the Ten Commandments: “The first two commandments and the sabbath commandment have parallels in the other versions of the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5). … The other seven commandments here are completely different.”[130] He suggests that differences in the J and E versions of the Ten Commandments story are a result of power struggles in the priesthood. The writer has Moses smash the tablets “because this raised doubts about the Judah’s central religious shrine”.[131]

According to Kaufmann, the Decalogue and the book of the covenant represent two ways of manifesting God’s presence in Israel: the Ten Commandments taking the archaic and material form of stone tablets kept in the ark of the covenant, while the book of the covenant took oral form to be recited to the people.[119]

United States debate over display on public property

Picture of a large stone monument displaying the ten commandments with the Texas State Capitol in Austin in the background. The picture was part of a news release Wednesday, March second, 2005, by then Attorney General Abbott.

Ten Commandments display at theTexas State Capitol in Austin.

European Protestants replaced some visual art in their churches with plaques of the Ten Commandments after the Reformation. In England, such “Decalogue boards” also represented the English monarch’s emphasis on rule of royal law within the churches. In the United States, images of Moses and the tablets of the Decalogue also claim biblical roots to U.S. law (as on the pediment of the Supreme Court building in Washington). Images of the Ten Commandments, then, have long been contested symbols for the relationship of religion to national law.[132]

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Fraternal Order of Eagles placed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Ten Commandments displays in courthouses and school rooms, including many stone monuments on courthouse property.[133] Because displaying the commandments can reflect a sectarian position if they are numbered (see above), the Eagles developed an ecumenical version that omitted the numbers, as on the monument at the Texas capitol (shown here). Hundreds of monuments were also placed by director Cecil B. DeMille as a publicity stunt to promote his 1956 film The Ten Commandments.[134] Placing the plaques and monuments to the Ten Commandments in and around government buildings was another expression of mid-twentieth century U.S. civil religion, along with adding the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.[132]

By the beginning of the twenty-first century in the U.S., however, Decalogue monuments and plaques in government spaces had become a legal battleground between religious as well as political liberals and conservatives. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americans United for Separation of Church and State launched lawsuits challenging the posting of the ten commandments in public buildings. The ACLU has been supported by a number of religious groups (such as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),[135] and the American Jewish Congress[136]), both because they do not want government to be issuing religious doctrine and because they feel strongly that the commandments are inherently religious. Many commentators see this issue as part of a widerculture war between liberal and conservative elements in American society. In response to the perceived attacks on traditional society, other legal organizations, such as the Liberty Counsel, have risen to advocate the conservative interpretation. Many Christian conservatives have taken the banning of officially sanctioned prayer from public schools by the U.S. Supreme Court as a threat to the expression of religion in public life. In response, they have successfully lobbied many state and local governments to display the ten commandments in public buildings.

Those who oppose the posting of the ten commandments on public property argue that it violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In contrast, groups like the Fraternal Order of Eagles who support the public display of the ten commandments claim that the commandments are not necessarily religious but represent the moral and legal foundation of society, and are appropriate to be displayed as a historical source of present-day legal codes. Also, some argue like Judge Roy Moore that prohibiting the public practice of religion is a violation of the first amendment’s guarantee offreedom of religion.[132]

The Ten Commandments by Lucas Cranach the Elder in the townhall ofWittenberg, (detail)

U.S. courts have often ruled against displays of the Ten Commandments on government property. They conclude that the ten commandments are derived from Judeo-Christian religions, to the exclusion of others: the statement “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” excludes non-monotheistic religions like Hinduism, for example. Whether the Constitution prohibits the posting of the commandments or not, there are additional political and civil rights issues regarding the posting of what is construed as religious doctrine. Excluding religions that have not accepted the ten commandments creates the appearance of impropriety. The courts have been more accepting, however, of displays that place the Ten Commandments in a broader historical context of the development of law.

One result of these legal cases has been that proponents of displaying the Ten Commandments have sometimes surrounded them with other historical texts to portray them as historical, rather than religious. Another result has been that other religious organizations have tried to put monuments to their laws on public lands. For example, an organization calledSummum has won court cases against municipalities in Utah for refusing to allow the group to erect a monument of Summum aphorisms next to the ten commandments. The cases were won on the grounds that Summum’s right to freedom of speech was denied and the governments had engaged in discrimination. Instead of allowing Summum to erect its monument, the local governments chose to remove their ten commandments.

Cultural references

Two famous films of this name were directed by Cecil B. DeMille: a silent movie released in 1923 starring Theodore Roberts as Moses and a colour VistaVisionversion of 1956, starring Charlton Heston as Moses.

Both The Decalogue, a 1989 Polish film series directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, and The Ten, a 2007 American film, use the ten commandments as a structure for 10 smaller stories.[137]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments

The Communist Manifesto

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Communist Manifesto
Communist-manifesto.png

First edition, in German
Author Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
Country United Kingdom
Language German (translated into several world languages)
Genre Manifesto
Publication date
21 February 1848

The Communist Manifesto (originally Manifesto of the Communist Party) is an 1848 political pamphlet by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Commissioned by the Communist League and originally published in London (in the German language as Manifest der kommunistischen Partei) just as the revolutions of 1848 began to erupt, the Manifesto was later recognised as one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism and the capitalist mode of production, rather than a prediction of communism’s potential future forms.

The Communist Manifesto summarises Marx and Engels’ theories about the nature of society and politics, that in their own words, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. It also briefly features their ideas for how the capitalist society of the time would eventually be replaced by socialism, and then finally communism.

Synopsis

A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism.

— Opening sentence

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of the Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto is divided into a preamble and four sections, the last of these a short conclusion.

Preamble

The introduction begins by proclaiming “A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre”. Pointing out that parties everywhere—including those in government and those in the opposition—have flung the “branding reproach of communism” at each other, the authors infer from this that the powers-that-be acknowledge communism to be a power in itself. Subsequently, the introduction exhorts Communists to openly publish their views and aims, to “meet this nursery tale of the spectre of communism with a manifesto of the party itself”.

Bourgeois and Proletarians

The first section of the Manifesto, “Bourgeois and Proletarians”, elucidates the materialist conception of history, that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. Societies have always taken the form of an oppressed majority living under the thumb of an oppressive minority. In capitalism, the industrial working class, or proletariat, engage in class struggle against the owners of the means of production, thebourgeoisie. As before, this struggle will end in a revolution that restructures society, or the “common ruin of the contending classes”. The bourgeoisie, through the “constant revolutionising of production [and] uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions” have emerged as the supreme class in society, displacing all the old powers of feudalism. The bourgeoisie constantly exploits the proletariat for its labour power, creating profit for themselves accumulating capital. However, by doing so the bourgeoisie “are its own grave-diggers”; the proletariat inevitably will become conscious of their own potential and rise to power through revolution, overthrowing the bourgeoisie.

Proletarians and Communists

“Proletarians and Communists”, the second section, starts by stating the relationship of conscious communists to the rest of the working class. The communists’ party will not oppose other working-class parties, but unlike them, it will express the general will and defend the common interests of the world’s proletariat as a whole, independent of all nationalities. The section goes on to defend communism from various objections, such as the claim that communists advocate “free love“, and the claim that people will not perform labour in a communist society because they have no incentive to work. The section ends by outlining a set of short-term demands—among them a progressive income tax; abolition of inheritances; free public education etc.—the implementation of which would be a precursor to a stateless and classless society.
List of short-term demands, also known as the ten planks:

1. Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.

2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6. Centralisation of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the State.

7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

8. Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.

10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.[1]

Socialists and Communist Literature

The third section, “Socialist and Communist Literature”, distinguishes communism from other socialist doctrines prevalent at the time—these being broadly categorised as Reactionary Socialism; Conservative or Bourgeois Socialism; and Critical-Utopian Socialism and Communism. While the degree of reproach toward rival perspectives varies, all are dismissed for advocating reformism and failing to recognise the pre-eminent revolutionary role of the working class. “Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Opposition Parties”, the concluding section of the Manifesto, briefly discusses the communist position on struggles in specific countries in the mid-nineteenth century such as France, Switzerland, Poland, and Germany, this last being “on the eve of a bourgeois revolution”, and predicts that a world revolution will soon follow. It ends by declaring an alliance with the social democrats, boldly supporting other communist revolutions, and calling for united international proletarian action.

Writing

Only surviving page from the first draft of the Manifesto, handwritten by Marx

Friedrich Engels has often been credited with composing the first drafts which led to the Communist Manifesto. In July 1847, Engels was elected into the Communist League, where he was assigned to draw up a catechism. This became the Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith. It contained almost two dozen questions that expressed the ideas of both Engels and Karl Marx at the time. In October 1847, Engels composed his second draft for the League, The Principles of Communism (which went unpublished until 1914). Once commissioned by the Communist League, Marx combined these drafts with Engels’ 1844 work The Condition of the Working Class in England to write the Communist Manifesto.[2]

Although the names of both Engels and Marx appear on the title page alongside the “persistent assumption of joint-authorship”, Engels, in the preface to the 1883 German edition of the Manifesto, said it was “essentially Marx’s work” and that “the basic thought… belongs solely and exclusively to Marx.”[3] Engels wrote after Marx’s death:

I cannot deny that both before and during my forty years’ collaboration with Marx I had a certain independent share in laying the foundations of the theory, but the greater part of its leading basic principles belongs to Marx … Marx was a genius; we others were at best talented. Without him the theory would not be by far what it is today. It therefore rightly bears his name.[4]

Despite Engels’s modesty in this quotation, he made major contributions to the Manifesto, starting with the suggestion to abandon “the form of a catechism and entitle it the Communist Manifesto.” Moreover, Engels joined Marx in Brussels for the writing of the Manifesto. There is no evidence of what his contributions to the final writing were, but the Manifesto bears the stamp of Marx’s more rhetorical writing style. Nevertheless, it seems clear that Engels’s contributions justify his name’s appearance on the title page after Marx’s.[5]

Publication

Initial publication and obscurity, 1848–72

A scene from the German March Revolution in Berlin, 1848

In late February 1848, the Manifesto was anonymously published by the Workers’ Educational Association (Communistischer Arbeiterbildungsverein) at 46 Liverpool Street in the City of London. Written in German, the 23-page pamphlet was titled Manifest der kommunistischen Partei and had a dark-green cover. It was reprinted thrice and serialised in the Deutsche Londoner Zeitung, a newspaper for German émigrés. On 4 March, one day after the serialisation in theZeitung began, Marx was expelled by Belgian police. Two weeks later, around 20 March, a thousand copies of the Manifestoreached Paris, and from there to Germany in early April. In April–May the text was corrected for printing and punctuation mistakes; Marx and Engels would use this 30-page version as the basis for future editions of the Manifesto.

Although the Manifesto‍ ’​s prelude announced that it was “to be published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish languages”, the initial printings were only in German. Polish and Danish translations soon followed the German original in London, and by the end of 1848, a Swedish translation was published with a new title—The Voice of Communism: Declaration of the Communist Party. In June–November 1850 the Manifesto of the Communist Party was published in English for the first time when George Julian Harney serialised Helen Macfarlane‘s translation in his Chartist magazine The Red Republican. (“A frightful hobgoblin stalks throughout Europe”, her version begins, “We are haunted by a ghost, the ghost of Communism…”[6]) For her translation, the Lancashire-based Macfarlane probably consulted Engels, whose own English translation had been abandoned half way. Harney’s introduction revealed the Manifesto‍ ’​s hitherto-anonymous authors’ identities for the first time.

Immediately after the Cologne Communist Trial of late 1852, the Communist League disbanded itself.

Soon after the Manifesto was published, Paris erupted in revolution to overthrow King Louis Philippe. The Manifesto played no role in this; a French translation was not published in Paris until just before the working-class June Days Uprising was crushed. Its influence in the Europe-wide revolutions of 1848 was restricted to Germany, where the Cologne-based Communist League and its newspaper Neue Rheinische Zeitung, edited by Marx, played an important role. Within a year of its establishment, in May 1849, the Zeitung was suppressed; Marx was expelled from Germany and had to seek lifelong refuge in London. In 1851, members of the Communist League’s central board were arrested by the Prussian police. At theirtrial in Cologne 18 months later in late 1852 they were sentenced to 3–6 years’ imprisonment. For Engels, the revolution was “forced into the background by the reaction that began with the defeat of the Paris workers in June 1848, and was finally excommunicated ‘by law’ in the conviction of the Cologne Communists in November 1852”.

After the defeat of the 1848 revolutions the Manifesto fell into obscurity, where it remained throughout the 1850s and 1860s. Hobsbawm says that by November 1850 the Manifesto “had become sufficiently scarce for Marx to think it worth reprinting section III … in the last issue of his [short-lived] London magazine”. Over the next two decades only a few new editions were published; these include a Russian translation by Mikhail Bakunin in Geneva c. 1863 and a 1866 edition in Berlin—the first time the Manifesto was published in Germany. According to Hobsbawm, “By the middle 1860s virtually nothing that Marx had written in the past was any longer in print.”

Rise, 1872–1917

In the early 1870s, the Manifesto and its authors experienced a revival in fortunes. Hobsbawm identifies three reasons for this. The first is the leadership role Marx played in the International Workingmen’s Association (aka the First International). Secondly, Marx also came into much prominence among socialists—and equal notoriety among the authorities—for his support of the Paris Commune of 1871, elucidated in The Civil War in France. Lastly, and perhaps most significantly in the popularisation of the Manifesto, was the treason trial of German Social Democratic Party (SPD) leaders. During the trial prosecutors read the Manifesto out loud as evidence; this meant that the pamphlet could legally be published in Germany. Thus in 1872 Marx and Engels rushed out a new German-language edition, writing a preface that identified that several portions that became outdated in the quarter century since its original publication. This edition was also the first time the title was shortened to The Communist Manifesto (Das Kommunistische Manifest), and it became the bedrock the authors based future editions upon. Between 1871 and 1873, the Manifesto was published in over nine editions in six languages; in 1872 it was published in the United States for the first time, serialised in Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly of New York City. However, by the mid 1870s the Communist Manifesto remained Marx and Engels’ only work to be even moderately well-known.

Over the next forty years, as social-democratic parties rose across Europe and parts of the world, so did the publication of the Manifesto alongside them, in hundreds of editions in thirty languages. Marx and Engels wrote a new preface for the 1882 Russian edition, translated by Georgi Plekhanov in Geneva (but later attributed to “the heroic Vera Zasulich” by Engels). In it they wondered if Russia could directly become a communist society, or if she would become capitalist first like other European countries. After Marx’s death in 1883, Engels alone provided the prefaces for five editions between 1888 and 1893. Among these is the 1888 English edition, translated by Samuel Moore and approved by Engels, who also provided notes throughout the text. It has been the standard English-language edition ever since.

The principle region of its influence, in terms of editions published, was in the “central belt of Europe”, from Russia in the east to France in the west. In comparison, the pamphlet had little impact on politics in southwest and southeast Europe, and moderate presence in the north. Outside Europe, Chinese and Japanese translations were published, as were Spanish editions in Latin America. This uneven geographical spread in the Manifesto‍ ’​s popularity reflected the development of socialist movements in a particular region as well as the popularity of Marxist variety of socialism there. There wasn’t always a strong correlation between a social-democratic party’s strength and the Manifesto‍ ’​s popularity in that country. For instance, the German SPD printed only a few thousand copies of the Communist Manifesto every year, but a few hundred thousand copies of the Erfurt Programme. Further, the mass-based social-democratic parties of the Second Internationaldid not require their rank and file to be well-versed in theory; Marxist works such as the Manifesto or Capital were read primarily by party theoreticians. On the other hand, small, dedicated militant parties and Marxist sects in the West took pride in knowing the theory; Hobsbawm says “This was the milieu in which ‘the clearness of a comrade could be gauged invariably from the number of earmarks on his Manifesto'”.

Ubiquity, 1917–present

The Bolshevik (1920) by Boris Kustodiev.Following the 1917 Bolshevik takeover of Russia Marx/Engels classics like theCommunist Manifesto were distributed far and wide.

Following the October Revolution of 1917 that swept the Vladimir Lenin-led Bolsheviks to power in Russia, the world’s firstsocialist state was founded explicitly along Marxist lines. The Soviet Union, which Bolshevik Russia would become a part of, was a single-party state under the rule of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Unlike their mass-based counterparts of the Second International, the CPSU and other Leninist parties like it in the Third International expected their members to know the classic works of Marx, Engels and Lenin. Further, party leaders were expected to base their policy decisions on Marxist-Leninist ideology. Therefore works such as the Manifesto were required reading for the party rank-and-file.

Therefore the widespread dissemination of Marx and Engels’ works became an important policy objective; backed by a sovereign state, the CPSU had relatively inexhaustible resources for this purpose. Works by Marx, Engels and Lenin were published on a very large scale, and cheap editions of their works were available in several languages across the world. These publications were either shorter writings or they were compendia such as the various editions of Marx and Engels’Selected Works, or their Collected Works. This affected the destiny of the Manifesto in several ways. Firstly, in terms of circulation; in 1932 the American and British Communist Parties printed several hundred thousand copies of a cheap edition for “probably the largest mass edition ever issued in English”. Secondly the work entered political-science syllabi in universities, which would only expand after the Second World War. For its centenary in 1948, its publication was no longer the exclusive domain of Marxists and academicians; general publishers too printed theManifesto in large numbers. “In short, it was no longer only a classic Marxist document,” Hobsbawm noted, “it had become a political classic tout court.”

Even after the collapse of Marxism-Leninism in the 1990s, the Communist Manifesto remains ubiquitous; Hobsbawm says that “In states without censorship, almost certainly anyone within reach of a good bookshop, and certainly anyone within reach of a good library, not to mention the internet, can have access to it.” The 150th anniversary once again brought a deluge of attention in the press and the academia, as well as new editions of the book fronted by introductions to the text by academics. One of these, The Communist Manifesto: A Modern Edition by Verso, was touted by a critic in the London Review of Books as being a “stylish red-ribboned edition of the work. It is designed as a sweet keepsake, an exquisite collector’s item. In Manhattan, a prominent Fifth Avenue store put copies of this choice new edition in the hands of shop-window mannequins, displayed in come-hither poses and fashionable décolletage.”

Influence

Soviet Union stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Manifesto

A number of 21st-century writers have commented on the Communist Manifesto‍ ’​s continuing relevance. Academic John Raines in 2002 noted that “In our day this Capitalist Revolution has reached the farthest corners of the earth. The tool of money has produced the miracle of the new global market and the ubiquitous shopping mall. Read The Communist Manifesto, written more than one hundred and fifty years ago, and you will discover that Marx foresaw it all.”[7] In 2003, the English Marxist Chris Harman stated:

There is still a compulsive quality to its prose as it provides insight after insight into the society in which we live, where it comes from and where its going to. It is still able to explain, as mainstream economists and sociologists cannot, today’s world of recurrent wars and repeated economic crisis, of hunger for hundreds of millions on the one hand and ‘overproduction’ on the other. There are passages that could have come from the most recent writings on globalisation.[8]

The continued relevance of the Marxist theories found within the text has also been supported by Alex Callinicos, editor ofInternational Socialism, who stated that “This is indeed a manifesto for the 21st century.”[9] Writing in The London Evening Standardin 2012, Andrew Neather cited Verso Books‘ 2012 re-edition of The Communist Manifesto, with an introduction by Eric Hobsbawm, as part of a resurgence of left-wing-themed ideas which includes the publication of Owen Jones‘ best-selling Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, and Jason Barker‘s documentary Marx Reloaded.[10]

However, not all scholars have praised it. Revisionist Marxist and reformist socialist Eduard Bernstein distinguished between “immature” early Marxism—as exemplified by the Communist Manifesto written by Marx and Engels in their youth—that he opposed for its violent Blanquist tendencies, and later “mature” Marxism that he supported.[11] This latter form refers to Marx in his later life acknowledging that socialism could be achieved through peaceful means through legislative reform in democratic societies.[12] Bernstein declared that the massive and homogeneous working-class claimed in the Communist Manifesto did not exist, and that contrary to claims of a proletarian majority emerging, the middle-class was growing under capitalism and not disappearing as Marx had claimed. Bernstein noted that the working-class was not homogeneous but heterogeneous, with divisions and factions within it, including socialist and non-socialist trade unions. Marx himself, later in his life, acknowledged that the middle-class was not disappearing, in his work Theories of Surplus Value (1863). The obscurity of the later work means that Marx’s acknowledgement of this error is not well known.[13]

George Boyer described the Manifesto as “very much a period piece, a document of what was called the ‘hungry’ 1840s.”[14]

Many have drawn attention to the passage in the Manifesto that seems to sneer at the stupidity of the rustic: “The bourgeoisie … draws all nations … into civilisation … It has created enormous cities … and thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy [sic!] of rural life”.[15] As Eric Hobsbawm noted, however:

[W]hile there is no doubt that Marx at this time shared the usual townsman’s contempt for, as well as ignorance of, the peasant milieu, the actual and analytically more interesting German phrase (“dem Idiotismus des Landlebens entrissen”) referred not to “stupidity” but to “the narrow horizons”, or “the isolation from the wider society” in which people in the countryside lived. It echoed the original meaning of the Greek term idiotes from which the current meaning of “idiot” or “idiocy” is derived, namely “a person concerned only with his own private affairs and not with those of the wider community”. In the course of the decades since the 1840s, and in movements whose members, unlike Marx, were not classically educated, the original sense was lost and was misread.[16]

End matter

Source text

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Communist_Manifesto

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Leninism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Russian revolutionary and later Soviet premier Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) c. 1920.

Leninism codified: the intellectual György Lukács, thephilosopher of Leninism, c. 1952.

In Marxist philosophy, Leninism is the body of political theory for the democratic organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party, and the achievement of a dictatorship of the proletariat, as political prelude to the establishment of socialism. Developed by, and named for, the Russian revolutionary and later Soviet premier Vladimir Lenin, Leninism comprises political and socialist economic theories, developed from Marxism, as well as Lenin’s interpretations of Marxist theory for practical application to the socio-political conditions of the agrarian early-20th-century Russian Empire. In February 1917, for five years, Leninism was the Russian application of Marxist economics and political philosophy, effected and realised by the Bolshevik party, the vanguard party who led the fight for the political independence of the working class.

Functionally, the Leninist vanguard party provided to the working class the political consciousness (education and organisation), and the revolutionary leadership necessary to depose capitalism in Imperial Russia. After the October Revolution of 1917, Leninism was the dominant version of Marxism in Russia; in fact, the Bolsheviks considered it the only legitimate form and persecuted non-Leninist Marxists such as Mensheviks and some factions of Socialist Revolutionaries. The Russian Civil Warthus included various left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks, but they were overpowered, and Leninism became the official state ideology of Soviet democracy (by workers’ council) in the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR), before its unitary amalgamation into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922.[1] In 1925–29 post-Lenin Russia, Joseph Stalin reinforced the assertion that Leninism was the only legitimate form of Marxism by recasting them as one indivisible entity called Marxism–Leninism, which then became the state ideology of the Soviet Union.

As a political-science term, Leninism entered common usage in 1922, after infirmity ended Lenin’s participation in governing the Russian Communist Party. Two years later, in July 1924, at the fifth congress of the Communist International, Grigory Zinovievpopularized the term to denote “vanguard-party revolution”. Leninism was composed as and for revolutionary praxis, and originally was neither a rigorously proper philosophy nor discrete political theory. After the Russian Revolution, in History and Class Consciousness (1923), György Lukács ideologically developed and organised Lenin’s pragmatic revolutionary practices into the formal philosophy of vanguard-party revolution (Leninism). As a work of political science and philosophy, History and Class Consciousness illustrated Lenin’s 1915 dictum about the commitment to the cause of the revolutionary man, and said of Lukács:

One cannot be a revolutionary Social–Democrat without participating, according to one’s powers, in developing this theory [Marxism], and adapting it to changed conditions.

Lenin and the Russian Revolution (1971) p. 35.[2]

Historical background

In the 19th century, The Communist Manifesto (1848), by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, called for the international political unification of the European working classes in order to achieve a Communist revolution; and proposed that, because the socio-economic organization of communism was of a higher form than that of capitalism, a workers’ revolution would first occur in the economically advanced, industrialized countries. Yet, in the early 20th century, the socio-economic backwardness of Imperial Russia (uneven and combined economic development) facilitated rapid and intensive industrialization, which produced a united, working-class proletariat in a predominantly rural, agrarian peasant society.

Moreover, because the industrialization was financed mostly with foreign capital, Imperial Russia (1721–1917) did not possess a revolutionary bourgeoisie with political and economic influence upon the workers and the peasants (as occurred in the French Revolution, 1789). So, although Russia’s political economyprincipally was agrarian and semi-feudal, the task of democratic revolution therefore fell to the urban, industrial working class, as the only social class capable of effecting land reform and democratization, in view that the Russian propertied classes would attempt to suppress any revolution, in town and country. In April 1917, Lenin published the April Theses, the strategy of the October Revolution, which proposed that the Russian revolution was not an isolated national event, but a fundamentally international event — the first world socialist revolution. Thus, Lenin’s practical application of Marxism and working-class urban revolution to the social, political, and economic conditions of the agrarian peasant society that was Tsarist Russia sparked the “revolutionary nationalism of the poor” to depose theabsolute monarchy of the three-hundred-year Romanov dynasty (1613–1917).[3]

Imperialism

In the course of developing the Russian application of Marxism, the pamphlet Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916) presented Lenin’s analysis of an economic development predicted by Karl Marx: that capitalism would become a global financial system, wherein advanced industrial countries export financial capital to their colonial countries, to finance the exploitation of their natural resources and the labour of the native populations. Such superexploitation of the poor (undeveloped) countries allows the wealthy (developed) countries to maintain some homeland workers politically content with a slightly higher standard of living, and so ensure peaceful labour–capital relations in the capitalist homeland. (see: labour aristocracy, globalization) Hence, a proletarian revolution of workers and peasants could not occur in the developed capitalist countries, while the imperialist global-finance system remained intact; thus an underdeveloped country would feature the first proletarian revolution; and, in the early 20th century, Imperial Russia was the politically weakest country in the capitalist global-finance system.[4] In the United States of Europe Slogan (1915), Lenin said:

Workers of the world, unite! — Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence the victory of socialism is possible, first in several, or even in one capitalist country taken separately. The victorious proletariat of that country, having expropriated the capitalists and organised its own socialist production, would stand up against the rest of the world, the capitalist world.

Collected Works, vol. 18, p. 232.[5]

The more powerful enemy can be vanquished only by exerting the utmost effort, and by the most thorough, careful, attentive, skilful and obligatory use of any, even the smallest, rift between the enemies, any conflict of interests among the bourgeoisie of the various countries and among the various groups or types of bourgeoisie within the various countries, and also by taking advantage of any, even the smallest, opportunity of winning a mass ally, even though this ally is temporary, vacillating, unstable, unreliable and conditional. Those who do not understand this reveal a failure to understand even the smallest grain of Marxism, of modern scientific socialism in general. Those who have not proved in practice, over a fairly considerable period of time and in fairly varied political situations, their ability to apply this truth in practice have not yet learned to help the revolutionary class in its struggle to emancipate all toiling humanity from the exploiters. And this applies equally to the period before and after the proletariat has won political power.

Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder (1920)[6]

Leninist theory

The vanguard party

In Chapter II: “Proletarians and Communists” of The Communist Manifesto (1848), Engels and Marx presented the idea of the vanguard party as solely qualified to politically lead the proletariat in revolution:

The Communists, therefore, are, on the one hand, practically the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the lines of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement. The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: Formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.

Hence, the purpose of the Leninist vanguard party is to establish a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat; supported by the working class, the vanguard party would lead the revolution to depose the incumbent Tsarist government, and then transfer power of government to the working class, which change of ruling class — from bourgeoisie to proletariat — makes possible the full development of socialism.[7] In the pamphlet What is to be Done? (1902), Lenin proposed that a revolutionary vanguard party, mostly recruited from the working class, should lead the political campaign, because it was the only way that the proletariat could successfully achieve a revolution; unlike the economist campaign of trade-union-struggle advocated by other socialist political parties; and later by the anarcho-syndicalists. Like Karl Marx, Lenin distinguished between the aspects of a revolution, the “economic campaign” (labour strikes for increased wages and work concessions), which featured diffused plural leadership; and the “political campaign” (socialist changes to society), which required the decisive revolutionary leadership of the Bolshevik vanguard party.

Democratic centralism

As epitomised in the slogan “Freedom in Discussion, Unity in Action”, Lenin followed the example of the First International (IWA, International Workingmen’s Association, 1864–1876), and organised the Bolsheviks as a democratically centralised vanguard party, wherein free political-speech was recognised legitimate until policy consensus; afterwards, every member of the Party would be expected to uphold the official policy established in consensus. In the pamphlet Freedom to Criticise and Unity of Action (1905), Lenin said:

Of course, the application of this principle in practice will sometimes give rise to disputes and misunderstandings; but only on the basis of this principle can all disputes and all misunderstandings be settled honourably for the Party…. The principle of democratic centralism and autonomy for local Party organisations implies universal and full freedom to criticise, so long as this does not disturb the unity of a definite action; it rules out all criticism which disrupts or makes difficult the unity of an action decided on by the Party.[8]

Full, inner-party democratic debate was Bolshevik Party practice under Lenin, even after the banning of party factions in 1921. Although a guiding influence in policy, Lenin did not exercise absolute power, and continually debated and discussed to have his point of view accepted. Under Stalin, the inner-party practice of democratic free debate did not continue after the death of Lenin in 1924.

Revolution

Before the Revolution, despite supporting political reform (including Bolsheviks elected to the Duma, when opportune), Lenin proposed that capitalism could ultimately only be overthrown with revolution, not with gradual reforms — from within (Fabianism) and from without (social democracy) — which would fail, because the ruling capitalist social class, who hold economic power (the means of production), determine the nature of political power in a bourgeois society.[9] As epitomised in the slogan, “For a Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry”, a revolution in underdeveloped Tsarist Russia required an allied proletariat of town and country (urban workers and peasants), because the urban workers would be too few to successfully assume power in the cities on their own. Moreover, owing to the middle-class aspirations of much of the peasantry, Leon Trotsky proposed that the proletariat should lead the revolution, as the only way for it to be truly socialist and democratic; although Lenin initially disagreed with Trotsky’s formulation, he adopted it before the Russian Revolution in October 1917.

Dictatorship of the proletariat

In the Russian socialist society, government by direct democracy was effected by elected soviets (workers’ councils), which “soviet government” form Lenin described as the manifestation of the Marxist ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat’.[10] As political organisations, the soviets would comprise representatives of factory workers’ and trade union committees, but would exclude capitalists, as a social class, in order to ensure the establishment of a proletarian government, by and for the working class and the peasants. About the political disenfranchisement of the Russian capitalist social classes, Lenin said that ‘depriving the exploiters of the franchise is a purely Russian question, and not a question of the dictatorship of the proletariat, in general…. In which countries… democracy for the exploiters will be, in one or another form, restricted… is a question of the specific national features of this or that capitalism’.[11] In chapter five of The State and Revolution(1917) Lenin describes:

…the dictatorship of the proletariat — i.e. the organisation of the vanguard of the oppressed as the ruling class for the purpose of crushing the oppressors…. An immense expansion of democracy, which for the first time becomes democracy for the poor, democracy for the people, and not democracy for the rich:… and suppression by force, i.e. exclusion from democracy, for the exploiters and oppressors of the people — this is the change which democracy undergoes during the ‘transition’ from capitalism to communism.[12]

Soviet constitutionalism was the collective government form of the Russian dictatorship of the proletariat, the opposite of the government form of the dictatorship of capital (privately owned means of production) practised in bourgeois democracies. In the soviet political system, the (Leninist) vanguard party would be one of many political parties competing for elected power.[1][10][13] Nevertheless, the circumstances of the Red vs. White Russian Civil War, and terrorism by the opposing political parties, and in aid of the White Armies’ counter-revolution, led to the Bolshevik government banning other parties; thus, the vanguard party became the sole, legal political party in Russia. Lenin did not regard such political suppression as philosophically inherent to the dictatorship of the proletariat; yet the Stalinists retrospectively claimed that such factional suppression was original to Leninism.[14][15][16]

Democracy for the vast majority of the people, and suppression by force, i.e. exclusion from democracy, of the exploiters and oppressors of the people — this is the change democracy undergoes during the transition from capitalism to communism.

— Lenin, The State and Revolution. Collected Works, Vol. 25, pp.461–462.[17]

Economics

Soviet democracy nationalised industry and established a foreign-trade monopoly to allow the productive co-ordination of the national economy, and so prevent Russian national industries from competing against each other. To feed the populaces of town and country, Lenin instituted War Communism (1918–21) as a necessary condition — adequate supplies of food and weapons — for fighting the Russian Civil War (1917–23).[13] Later, in March 1921, he established the New Economic Policy (NEP, 1921–29), which allowed measures of private commerce, internal free trade, and replaced grain requisitions with an agricultural tax, under the management of State banks. The purpose of the NEP was to resolve food-shortage riots among the peasantry, and allowed measures of private enterprise, wherein the profit motive encouraged the peasants to harvest the crops required to feed the people of town and country; and to economically re-establish the urban working class, who had lost many men (workers) to the counter-revolutionary Civil War.[18][19] With the NEP, the socialist nationalisation of the economy could then be developed to industrialise Russia, strengthen the working class, and raise standards of living; thus the NEP would advance socialism against capitalism. Lenin regarded the appearance of new socialist states in the developed countries as necessary to the strengthening Russia’s economy, and the eventual development of socialism. In that, he was encouraged by the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the Italian insurrection and general strikes of 1920, and industrial unrest in Britain, France, and the U.S.

National self-determination

Lenin recognized and accepted the existence of nationalism among oppressed peoples, advocated their national rights to self-determination, and opposed the ethnic chauvinism of “Greater Russia” because such ethnocentrism was a cultural obstacle to establishing the proletarian dictatorship in the territories of the deposed Tsarist Russian Empire (1721–1917).[20][21] In The Right of Nations to Self-determination (1914), Lenin said:

We fight against the privileges and violence of the oppressor nation, and do not in any way condone strivings for privileges on the part of the oppressed nation…. The bourgeois nationalism of any oppressed nation has a general democratic content that is directed against oppression, and it is this content that we unconditionally support. At the same time, we strictly distinguish it from the tendency towards national exclusiveness…. Can a nation be free if it oppresses other nations? It cannot.[22]

The internationalist philosophies of Bolshevism and of Marxism are based upon class struggle transcending nationalism, ethnocentrism, and religion, which areintellectual obstacles to class consciousness, because the bourgeois ruling classes manipulated said cultural status quo to politically divide the proletarian working classes. To overcome the political barrier of nationalism, Lenin said it was necessary to acknowledge the existence of nationalism among oppressed peoples, and to guarantee their national independence, as the right of secession; and that, based upon national self-determination, it was natural for socialist states to transcend nationalism and form a federation.[23] In The Question of Nationalities, or “Autonomisation” (1923), Lenin said:

…nothing holds up the development and strengthening of proletarian class solidarity so much as national injustice; “offended” nationals are not sensitive to anything, so much as to the feeling of equality, and the violation of this equality, if only through negligence or jest — to the violation of that equality by their proletarian comrades.[24]

Socialist culture

The role of the Marxist vanguard party was to politically educate the workers and peasants to dispel the societal false consciousness of religion and nationalism that constitute the cultural status quo taught by the bourgeoisie to the proletariat to facilitate their economic exploitation of peasant and worker. Influenced by Lenin, the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party stated that the development of the socialist workers’ culture should not be ‘hamstrung from above’, and opposed theProletkult (1917–25) organisational control of the national culture.[25]

Leninism after 1924

Leon Trotsky (ca. 1929)

In post–Revolutionary Russia, Stalinism (Socialism in one country) and Trotskyism (Permanent world revolution) were the principal philosophies of Communism that claimed legitimate ideological descent from Leninism’ thus, within the Communist Party, each ideological faction denied the political legitimacy of the opposing faction.[26]

Lenin vs. Stalin

Until shortly before his death, Lenin worked to counter the disproportionate political influence of Joseph Stalin in the Communist Party and in the bureaucracy of the soviet government, partly because of abuses he had committed against the populace of Georgia, and partly because the autocratic Stalin had accumulated administrative power disproportionate to his office of General Secretary of the Communist Party.[27][28] The counter-action against Stalin aligned with Lenin’s advocacy of the right of self-determination for the national and ethnic groups of the former Tsarist Empire, which was a key theoretic concept of Leninism.[28] Lenin warned that Stalin has “unlimited authority concentrated in his hands, and I am not sure whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution”, and formed a factional bloc with Leon Trotsky to remove Stalin as the General Secretary of the Communist Party.[16][29] To that end followed proposals reducing the administrative powers of Party posts, in order to reduce bureaucratic influence upon the policies of the Communist Party. Lenin advised Trotsky to emphasize Stalin’s recent bureaucratic alignment in such matters (e.g. undermining the anti-bureaucratic Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection), and argued to depose Stalin as General Secretary. Despite advice to refuse “any rotten compromise”, Trotsky did not heed Lenin’s advice, and General Secretary Stalin retained power over the Communist Party and the bureaucracy of the soviet government.[16]

Trotskyism vs. Stalinism

After Lenin’s death (21 January 1924), Trotsky ideologically battled the influence of Stalin, who formed ruling blocs within the Russian Communist Party (withGrigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, then with Nikolai Bukharin, and then by himself) and so determined soviet government policy from 1924 onwards. The ruling blocs continually denied Stalin’s opponents the right to organise as an opposition faction within the Party — thus, the re-instatement of democratic centralism and free speech within the Communist Party were key arguments of Trotsky’s Left Opposition, and the later Joint Opposition.[16][30]

In the course of instituting government policy, Stalin promoted the doctrine of Socialism in One Country (adopted 1925), wherein the USSR would establishsocialism upon Russia’s economic foundations (and support socialist revolutions elsewhere). Conversely, Trotsky held that socialism in one country would economically constrain the industrial development of the USSR, and thus required assistance from the new socialist countries that had arisen in the developed world, which was essential for maintaining Soviet democracy, in 1924 much undermined by civil war and counter-revolution. Furthermore, Trotsky’s theory ofPermanent Revolution proposed that socialist revolutions in underdeveloped countries would go further towards dismantling feudal régimes, and establish socialist democracies that would not pass through a capitalist stage of development and government. Hence, revolutionary workers should politically ally with peasant political organisations, but not with capitalist political parties. In contrast, Stalin and allies proposed that alliances with capitalist political parties were essential to realising a revolution where Communists were too few; said Stalinist practice failed, especially in the Northern Expedition portion of the Chinese Revolution (1925–1927), wherein it resulted in the right-wing Kuomintang’s massacre of the Chinese Communist Party; nonetheless, despite the failure, Stalin’s policy of mixed-ideology political alliances, became Comintern policy.

The Oppositionists

Until exiled from Russia in 1929, Leon Trotsky helped develop and led the Left Opposition (and the later Joint Opposition) with members of the Workers’ Opposition, the Decembrists, and (later) the Zinovievists.[16] Trotskyism ideologically predominated the political platform of the Left Opposition, which demanded the restoration of soviet democracy, the expansion of democratic centralism in the Communist Party, national industrialisation, international permanent revolution, and socialist internationalism. The Trotskyist demands countered Stalin’s political dominance of the Russian Communist Party, which was officially characterised by the ‘cult of Lenin’, the rejection of permanent revolution, and the doctrine of Socialism in One Country. The Stalinist economic policy vacillated between appeasing capitalistkulak interests in the countryside, and destroying them. Initially, the Stalinists also rejected the national industrialisation of Russia, but then pursued it in full, sometimes brutally. In both cases, the Left Opposition denounced the regressive nature of the policy towards the kulak social class of wealthy peasants, and the brutality of forced industrialisation. Trotsky described the vacillating Stalinist policy as a symptom of the undemocratic nature of a ruling bureaucracy.[31]

During the 1920s and the 1930s, Stalin fought and defeated the political influence of Leon Trotsky and of the Trotskyists in Russia, by means of slander, anti-Semitism, programmed censorship, expulsions, exile (internal and external), and imprisonment. The anti–Trotsky campaign culminated in the executions (official and unofficial) of the Moscow Trials (1936–38), which were part of the Great Purge of Old Bolsheviks (who had led the Revolution).[16][32] Once established as ruler of the USSR, General Secretary Stalin re-titled the official Socialism in One Country doctrine as “Marxism-Leninism”, to establish ideologic continuity with Leninism, whilst opponents continued calling it “Stalinism”.

Philosophic successors

In political practice, Leninism (vanguard-party revolution), despite its origin as Communist revolutionary praxis, was adopted throughout the political spectrum.

  • The People’s Action Party (PAP) of Singapore was originally organized on Leninist lines, with internal democracy, and initiated a legacy of single-party dominance over the government that continues to the present.[34]

In turn, Maoism became the theoretical basis of some third world revolutionary vanguard parties, such as the Communist Party of Peru – Red Fatherland and others.[35]

Criticism

In several works, including an essay written from jail and published posthumously by her last companion, Paul Levi (publication of which precipitated his expulsion from the Third International) titled “The Russian Revolution”,[36] the Marxist Rosa Luxemburg sharply criticized some Bolshevik policies, such as their suppression of the Constituent Assembly in January 1918, their support for the partition of the old feudal estates to the peasant communes, and their policy of supporting the purported right of all national peoples to “self-determination.” According to Luxemburg, the Bolsheviks’ strategic mistakes created tremendous dangers for the Revolution, such as its bureaucratisation.

Left communism is the range of communist viewpoints held by the communist left, which criticizes the political ideas of the Bolsheviks at certain periods, from a position that is asserted to be more authentically Marxist and proletarian than the views of Leninism held by the Communist International after its first and during its second congress. Proponents of left communism have included Amadeo Bordiga, Herman Gorter, Anton Pannekoek, Otto Rühle, Sylvia Pankhurst and Paul Mattick.[37] “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder is a work by Vladimir Lenin attacking assorted critics of the Bolsheviks who claimed positions to their left.

Critics of Lenin, such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Noam Chomsky, have argued that Stalinism (i.e., a political system which includes forced collectivization, apolice state, a totalitarian political ideology, forced labor camps and mass executions) was not a deviation from Lenin’s policies, but merely a logical extension of them.[38][39]

“The “call-up of 1937” was very loquacious, and having access to the press and radio created the “legend of 1937”, a legend consisting of two points: 1) If they arrested people at all under the Soviet government, it was only in 1937, and it is necessary to speak out and be indignant only about 1937; 2) In 1937 they were the only ones arrested. Here’s what they write: “That terrible year when they arrested the most devout Communist executives: Secretaries of the Central Committees of the Union Republics, Secretaries of the Provincial Party Committees, Chairmen of the Provincial Executive Committees; all the commanders of the military districts, marshals and generals; provincial prosecutors; Secretaries of District Party Committees…” At the very beginning of our book, we gave a conspectus of the waves pouring into the Archipelago [labor camps] during the two decades up to 1937. How long all that dragged on! And how many millions there were! But the future call-up of 1937 didn’t bat an eye and found it all normal…. And for a long time after, as they became convinced of the irrevocability of their fate, they sighed and groaned, “If only Lenin were alive, this would never have happened!” What did they mean by this? Was it not precisely this that had happened to the others before them?” Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 2, p. 328

See also

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leninism

Vladimir Lenin

“Lenin” redirects here. For other uses, see Lenin (disambiguation).
This name uses Eastern Slavic naming customs; the patronymic is Ilyich and the family name is Ulyanov.
Vladimir Lenin

Владимир Ленин
Lenin.jpg
Lenin in 1920
Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union(Premier of the Soviet Union)
In office30 December 1922 – 21 January 1924
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Alexei Rykov
Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Russian SFSR
In office8 November 1917 – 21 January 1924
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Alexei Rykov
Full member of the Politburo
In office10 October 1917 – 21 January 1924
Legislature 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th,12th
Full member of the Central Committee
In office3 August 1917 – 21 January 1924
Committee 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th,12th
In office27 April 1905 – 19 May 1907
Committee 3rd
Personal details
Born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Владимир Ильич Ульянов)22 April 1870

Simbirsk, Russian Empire

Died 21 January 1924 (aged 53)Gorki, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Resting place Lenin’s Mausoleum, Moscow,Russian Federation
Nationality SovietRussian
Political party Socialist Revolutionary Party(1893–1898)

Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks)

(1898–1912)

Russian Communist Party

(1912–1924)

Spouse(s) Nadezhda Krupskaya(married 1898–1924)
Occupation Revolutionary, politician
Profession Lawyer
Religion None
Other names Lenin, Nikolai, N. Lenin, V. I. Lenin, Peterburzhets, Starik, Ilyin, Frei, Petrov, Maier, Iordanov, Jacob Richter, Karpov, Mueller, Tulin[1]
Signature

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Russian: Влади́мир Ильи́ч Улья́нов; IPA: [vlɐˈdʲimʲɪr ɪˈlʲitɕ ʊˈlʲanəf]), alias Lenin(/ˈlɛnɪn/;[2]Russian: Ле́нин; IPA: [ˈlʲenʲɪn]) (22 April [O.S. 10 April] 1870 – 21 January 1924) was a Russian communistrevolutionary, politician and political theorist. He served as head of government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic from 1917, and of the Soviet Union from 1922 until his death. Under his administration, the Russian Empire was replaced by the Soviet Union; all wealth including land, industry and business was nationalized. Based inMarxism, his political theories are known as Leninism.

Born to a wealthy middle-class family in Simbirsk, Lenin gained an interest in revolutionary leftist politics following the execution of his brother Aleksandr in 1887. Expelled from Kazan State University for participating in anti-Tsarist protests, he devoted the following years to a law degree and to radical politics, becoming a Marxist. In 1893 he moved to Saint Petersburg, and became a senior figure in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). Arrested for sedition and exiled to Siberia for three years, he married Nadezhda Krupskaya, and fled to Western Europe, where he became known as a prominent party theorist. In 1903, he took a key role in the RSDLP schism, leading the Bolshevikfaction against Julius Martov‘s Mensheviks. Briefly returning to Russia during the Revolution of 1905, he encouraged violent insurrection and later campaigned for the First World War to be transformed into a Europe-wide proletariat revolution. After the 1917 February Revolution ousted the Tsar, he returned to Russia.

Lenin, along with Leon Trotsky, played a senior role in orchestrating the October Revolution in 1917, which led to the overthrow of the Provisional Government and the establishment of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. Lenin was elected to the position of the head of government by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets.[3] Under Lenin’s leadership the new government nationalized the estates and crown lands. Homosexuality and abortion were legalized;[4] Lenin’s Russia was the first country in the world to establish both of these rights.[5] Free access was being given to both abortion and birth control.[6] No-fault divorce was also legalized, along with universal free healthcare[7]and free education being established.[8] The Bolsheviks fought in the Russian Civil War during which Lenin’s government carried out the Red Terror. The civil war resulted in millions of deaths. Lenin supported world revolutionand immediate peace with the Central Powers, agreeing to a punitive treaty that turned over a significant portion of the former Russian Empire to Germany. The treaty was voided after the Allies won the war. In 1921 Lenin proposed theNew Economic Policy, a mixed economic system of state capitalism that started the process of industrialisation and recovery from the Civil War. In 1922, the Russian SFSR joined former territories of the Russian Empire in becoming the Soviet Union, with Lenin as its head of government. Only 13 months later, after being incapacitated by a series of strokes, Lenin died at his home in Gorki.

After his death, there was a struggle for power in the Soviet Union between two major factions, namely Stalin‘s and theLeft Opposition (with Trotsky as de facto leader). Eventually, Stalin, whom Lenin distrusted and wanted removed,[9]came to power and eliminated any opposition.

Lenin remains a controversial and highly divisive world figure.[10] Lenin had a significant influence on the international Communist movement and was one of the most influential and controversial figures of the 20th century. Admirers view him as a champion of working people’s rights and welfare whilst critics see him as a dictator who carried out mass human rights abuses. Historian J. Arch Getty has remarked that “Lenin deserves a lot of credit for the notion that the meek can inherit the earth, that there can be a political movement based on social justice and equality”, while one of his biographers, Robert Service, says he “laid the foundations of dictatorship and lawlessness. Lenin had consolidated the principle of state penetration of the whole society, its economy and its culture. Lenin had practised terror and advocated revolutionary amoralism.”[11]Time magazine named Lenin one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century,[12] and one of their top 25 political icons of all time; remarking that “for decades, Marxist–Leninist rebellions shook the world while Lenin’s embalmed corpse lay in repose in the Red Square“.[13] Following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, reverence for Lenin declined among the post-Soviet generations, yet he remains an important historical figure for the Soviet-era generations.[14]

Early life

Childhood: 1870–87

“Volodya”, aged four.

Lenin’s father, Ilya Nikolayevich Ulyanov, born to a Chuvash family,[15] came from a serf background but had studied physics and maths at Kazan State University, going to teach at the Penza Institute for the Nobility.[16] Lenin’s great-grandfather was a serf, and he married Anna Alexeevna Smirnova, a baptized Kalmyk.[17] He was introduced to Maria Alexandrovna Blank; they married in the summer of 1863.[18] Hailing from a relatively prosperous background, Maria was the daughter of a Russian Jewish physician, Alexander Dmitrievich Blank, and his GermanSwedish wife, Anna Ivanovna Grosschopf. Dr. Blank had insisted on providing his children with a good education, ensuring that Maria learned Russian, German, English and French, and that she was well versed inRussian literature.[19] Soon after their wedding, Ilya obtained a job in Nizhni Novgorod, rising to become Director of Primary Schools in the Simbirsk district six years later. Five years after that, he was promoted to Director of Public Schools for the province, overseeing the foundation of over 450 schools as a part of the government’s plans for modernisation. Awarded the Order of St. Vladimir, he became a hereditary nobleman.[20]

The couple, now nobility, had two children, Anna (born 1864) and Alexander (born 1868), before Vladimir “Volodya” Ilyich was born on 10 April 1870, and baptised in St. Nicholas Cathedral several days later. They would be followed by three more children, Olga (born 1871), Dmitry (born 1874) and Maria (born 1878). Another brother, Nikolai, had died in infancy in 1873.[21] Ilya was a devout member of the Russian Orthodox Church and baptised his children into it, although Maria – a Lutheran – was largely indifferent to Christianity, a view that influenced her children.[22] Both parents were monarchists and liberal conservatives, being committed to the emancipation reform of 1861 introduced by the reformist Tsar Alexander II; they avoided political radicals and there is no evidence that the police ever put them under surveillance for subversive thought.[23]

Every summer they holidayed at a rural manor in Kokushkino.[24] Among his siblings, Vladimir was closest to his sister Olga, whom he bossed around, having an extremely competitive nature; he could be destructive, but usually admitted his misbehaviour.[25] A keen sportsman, he spent much of his free time outdoors or playing chess, and excelled at school, the disciplinarian and conservative Simbirsk Classical Gimnazia.[26]

Ilya Ulyanov died of a brain haemorrhage in January 1886, when Vladimir was 16.[27] Vladimir’s behaviour became erratic and confrontational, and shortly thereafter he renounced his belief in God.[28] At the time, Vladimir’s elder brother Aleksandr (Sacha) Ulyanov was studying at Saint Petersburg University. Involved in political agitation against the absolute monarchy of reactionary Tsar Alexander III which governed the Russian Empire, he studied the writings of banned leftists like Dmitry Pisarev, Nikolay Dobrolyubov, Nikolay Chernyshevsky and Karl Marx. Organising protests against the government, he joined a socialist revolutionary cell bent on assassinating the Tsar and was selected to construct a bomb. Before the attack commenced, the conspirators were arrested and tried. On 25 April 1887, Sacha was sentenced to death by hanging, and executed on 8 May.[29] Despite the emotional trauma brought on by his father and brother’s deaths, Vladimir continued studying, leaving school with a gold medal for his exceptional performance, and decided to study law at Kazan University.[30]

University and political radicalism: 1887–93

Lenin, c. 1887.

Entering Kazan University in August 1887, Vladimir and his mother moved into a flat, renting out their Simbirsk home.[31] Interested in his late brother’s radical ideas, he joined an agrarian-socialist revolutionary cell intent on reviving the People’s Freedom Party(Narodnaya Volya). Joining the university’s illegal Samara-Simbirsk zemlyachestvo, he was elected as its representative for the university’s zemlyachestvo council.[32] In December he took part in a demonstration demanding the abolition of the 1884 statute and the re-legalisation of student societies, but was arrested by the police. Accused of being a ringleader, the university expelled him and the Ministry of Internal Affairs placed him under surveillance, exiling him to his Kokushkino estate.[33] Here, he read voraciously, becoming enamoured with Chernyshevsky’s 1863 novel What is to be Done?.[34] Disliking his radicalism, in September 1888 his mother persuaded him to write to the Interior Ministry to request permission for studying abroad; they refused, but allowed him to return to Kazan, where he settled on the Pervaya Gora with his mother and brother Dmitry.[35]

In Kazan, he joined another revolutionary circle, through which he discovered Karl Marx’s Das Kapital (1867). It exerted a strong influence on him, and he grew increasingly interested in Marxism.[36] Wary of his political views, his mother bought an estate in Alakaevka village, Samara Oblast – made famous in the work of poet Gleb Uspensky, of whom Lenin was a great fan – in the hope that her son would turn his attention to agriculture. Here, he studied peasant life and the poverty they faced, but remained unpopular as locals stole his farm equipment and livestock, causing his mother to sell the farm.[37]

In September 1889, the Ulyanovs moved to Samara for the winter. Here, Vladimir contacted exiled dissidents and joined Alexei P. Skliarenko‘s discussion circle. Both Vladimir and Skliarenko adopted Marxism, with Vladimir translating Marx and Friedrich Engels‘ 1848 political pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto, into Russian. He began to read the works of the Russian Marxist Georgi Plekhanov, a founder of the Black Repartition movement, concurring with Plekhanov’s argument that Russia was moving from feudalism to capitalism. Becoming increasingly sceptical of the effectiveness of militant attacks and assassinations, he argued against such tactics in a December 1889 debate with M.V. Sabunaev, an advocate of the People’s Freedom Party. Despite disagreeing on tactics, he made friends among the Party, in particular with Apollon Shukht, who asked Vladimir to be his daughter’s godfather in 1893.[38]

In May 1890, Mariya convinced the authorities to allow Vladimir to undertake his exams externally at a university of his choice. Choosing the University of St Petersburg and obtaining the equivalent of a first-class degree with honours, celebrations were marred when his sister Olga died of typhoid.[39] Vladimir remained in Samara for several years, in January 1892 being employed as a legal assistant for a regional court, before gaining a job with a local lawyer. Embroiled primarily in disputes between peasants and artisans, he devoted much time to radical politics, remaining active in Skylarenko’s group and formulating ideas about Marxism’s applicability to Russia. Inspired by Plekhanov’s work, Vladimir collected data on Russian society, using it to support a Marxist interpretation of societal development and increasingly rejecting the claims of the People’s Freedom Party.[40] In the spring of 1893, Lenin wrote a paper, “New Economic Developments in Peasant Life”; submitted to the liberal journal Russian Thought, it was rejected and only published in 1927.[41] In the autumn of 1893, Lenin wrote another article, “On the So-Called Market Question”, a critique of Russian economist G. B. Krasin.[42]

Revolutionary activities

Early activism and imprisonment: 1893–1900

In autumn 1893, Lenin moved to Saint Petersburg.[43] There, he worked as a barrister’s assistant to M.F.Wolkenstein [44] and rose to a senior position in a Marxist revolutionary cell who called themselves the “Social Democrats” after the Marxist Social Democratic Party of Germany.[45] Publicly championing Marxism among the socialist movement,[46] he encouraged the foundation of revolutionary cells in Russia’s industrial centres.[47] He befriended Russian Jewish Marxist Julius Martov,[48]and began a relationship with Marxist schoolteacher Nadezhda “Nadya” Krupskaya.[49] By autumn 1894 he was leading a Marxist workers’ circle, and was meticulous in covering his tracks, knowing that police spies were trying to infiltrate the revolutionary movement.[50]

Lenin (left) in December 1895 and his wife Nadezhda.

Although he was influenced by agrarian-socialist Pëtr Tkachëvi,[51] Lenin’s Social-Democrats clashed with theNarodnik agrarian-socialist platform of the Socialist–Revolutionary Party (SR). The SR saw the peasantry as the main force of revolutionary change, whereas the Marxists believed peasants to be sympathetic to private ownership, instead emphasising the revolutionary role of the proletariat.[52] He dealt with some of these issues in his first political tract, What the “Friends of the People” Are and How They Fight the Social-Democrats; based largely on his experiences in Samara, around 200 copies were illegally printed.[53]

Lenin hoped to cement connections between his Social-Democrats and the Swiss-based Emancipation of Labour group of Russian Marxist emigres like Pleckhanov, travelling to Geneva to meet the latter,[54] before heading to Zurich, where he befriended another member, Pavel Axelrod.[55] Proceeding to Paris, France, Vladimir met Paul Lafargue and researched the Paris Commune of 1871, which he saw as an early prototype for a proletarian government.[56] Financed by his mother, he stayed in a Swiss health spa before traveling to Berlin, Germany, where he studied for six weeks at the Staatsbibliothek and met Wilhelm Liebknecht.[57]Returning to Russia with a stash of illegal revolutionary publications, he traveled to various cities distributing literature to striking workers in Saint Petersburg.[58] Involved in producing a news sheet, The Workers’ Cause, he was among 40 activists arrested and charged with sedition.[59]

Imprisoned and refused legal representation, Vladimir denied all charges. He was refused bail and remained imprisoned for a year before sentencing.[60] He spent the time theorising and writing, focusing his attention on the revolutionary potential of the working-class; believing that the rise of industrial capitalism had led large numbers of peasants to move to the cities, he argued that they became proletariat and gained class consciousness, which would lead them to violently overthrowTsarism, the aristocracy, and the bourgeoisie.[60]

In February 1897, he was sentenced without trial to 3 years exile in eastern Siberia, although given a few days in Saint Petersburg to put his affairs in order; he met with the Social-Democrats, who had been renamed the League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class.[61] His journey to eastern Siberia took 11 weeks, for much of which he was accompanied by his mother and sisters. Considered a minor threat, Vladimir was exiled to Shushenskoye in the Minusinsky District. Renting a room in a peasant’s hut, he remained under police surveillance, but corresponded with other subversives, many of whom visited him, and also went on trips to hunt duck and snipe and to swim in the Yenisei River.[62]

In May 1898, Nadya joined him in exile, having been arrested in August 1896 for organising a strike. Although initially posted to Ufa, she convinced the authorities to move her to Shushenskoye, claiming that she and Vladimir were engaged; they married in a church on 10 July 1898.[63] Settling into a family life with Nadya’s mother Elizaveta Vasilyevna, the couple translated English socialist literature into Russian.[64] Keen to keep abreast of the developments in German Marxism – where there had been an ideological split, with revisionists like Eduard Bernstein advocating a peaceful, electoral path to socialism – Vladimir remained devoted to violent revolution, attacking revisionist arguments in A Protest by Russian Social-Democrats.[65] Vladimir also finished The Development of Capitalism in Russia(1899), his longest book to date, which offered a well-researched and polemical attack on the Social-Revolutionaries and promoting a Marxist analysis of Russian economic development. Published under the pseudonym of “Vladimir Ilin”, it received predominantly poor reviews upon publication.[66]

Munich, London and Geneva: 1900–05

The first issue of Iskra (“Spark”), official organ of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Edited by Lenin from his base in Geneva, Switzerland, copies would be smuggled into Russia, where it would prove successful in winning support for the Marxist revolutionary cause.

His exile over, Vladimir settled in Pskov,[67] and began raising funds for a newspaper, Iskra (The Spark), a new organ of the Russian Marxist movement, now calling itself the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party(RSDLP). In July 1900, Vladimir left Russia for Western Europe; in Switzerland he met other Russian Marxists, and at a Corsier conference they agreed to launch the paper from Munich, where Lenin relocated in September.[68]Iskra was smuggled into Russia illegally, becoming the most successful underground publication for 50 years, and containing contributions from prominent European Marxists Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Kautsky, and Leon Trotsky.[69] Vladimir adopted the nom de guerre of “Lenin” in December 1901, possibly taking theRiver Lena as a basis,.[70]

He published a political pamphlet What Is to Be Done? under the “Lenin” pseudonym in 1902. His most influential publication to date, it dealt with Lenin’s thoughts on the need for a vanguard party to lead the proletariat to revolution.[71]Lars Lih, who has a totally different reading, says that historians interpreting the pamphlet typically follow “three mutually reinforcing strands”:

The first is that the essence of Lenin’s outlook is his loss of confidence in the workers and his fear of their “spontaneity” (“stikhiinost”). Lenin’s hard-eyed realism about the incapacity of the workers, combined with his own fanatical will to revolution, gave birth to the idea of a party based on “professional revolutionaries” from the intelligentsia. Second, Lenin’s outlook is a profound revision of orthodox Marxism. “Lenin is quite ready to reinterpret Marx, while claiming, of course, that he is merely following the letter of the doctrine.” Third, the book where this profound innovation is set forth “What Is to Be Done?” is the founding document of Bolshevism.[72]

Nadya joined Lenin in Munich, becoming his personal secretary.[73] They continued their political agitation, with Lenin writing for Iskra and drafting the RSDLP program, attacking ideological dissenters and external critics, particularly the SR.[74] Despite remaining an orthodox Marxist, he came to accept the SR’s views on the revolutionary power of the Russian peasantry, penning the 1903 pamphlet To the Village Poor.[75] To evade Bavarian police, Lenin relocated to London withIskra in April 1902.[76] Here he became good friends with Trotsky, who also arrived in the city.[77] While in London, Lenin fell ill with erysipelas and was unable to take such a leading role on the Iskra editorial board; in his absence the board moved the base of operations to Switzerland.[78]

The 2nd RSDLP Congress was held in London in July.[79] At the conference, a schism emerged between Lenin’s supporters and those of Julius Martov. Martov argued that party members should be able to express themselves independently of the party leadership; Lenin disagreed, emphasising the need for a strong leadership with complete control.[80] Lenin’s supporters were in the majority, and Lenin termed them the “majoritarians” (bol’sheviki in Russian; thus Bolsheviks); in response, Martov termed his followers the minoritarians (men’sheviki in Russian; thus Mensheviks).[81] Arguments between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks continued after the conference. The Bolsheviks accused their rivals of being opportunists and reformists who lacked any discipline, while the Mensheviks accused Lenin of being a despot and autocrat.[82] Enraged at the Mensheviks, Lenin resigned from the Iskra editorial board and in May 1904 published the anti-Menshevik tract One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.[83] The stress made Lenin ill,[84] and he escaped on a rural climbing holiday.[85] The Bolshevik faction grew in strength; by the spring, the whole RSDLP Central Committee was Bolshevik,[86] and in December, they founded the newspaper Vperëd (Forward).[87]

The 1905 Revolution: 1905–07

“The uprising has begun. Force against Force. Street fighting is raging, barricades are being thrown up, rifles are cracking, guns are booming. Rivers of blood are flowing, the civil war for freedom is blazing up. Moscow and the South, the Caucasus and Poland are ready to join the proletariat of St. Petersburg. The slogan of the workers has become: Death or Freedom!”

Lenin, 1905[88]

In January 1905, the Bloody Sunday massacre of protesters in St. Petersburg sparking a spate of civil unrest known as the Revolution of 1905.[89] Lenin urged Bolsheviks to take a greater role in the unrest, encouraging violent insurrection.[90] He insisted that the Bolsheviks split completely with the Mensheviks, although many Bolsheviks refused, and both groups attended the 3rd RSDLP Congress, held in London in April 1905.[91] Lenin presented many of his ideas in the pamphlet Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution, published in August 1905. Here, he predicted that the liberal bourgeoisie would be sated by a constitutional monarchy and thus betray the revolution; instead he argued that the proletariat would have to build an alliance with the peasantry to overthrow the Tsarist regime and establish the “provisional revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry”.[92] He used many SR slogans – “armed insurrection”, “mass terror”, and “the expropriation of gentry land” – further shocking the Mensheviks, who believed he had departed from orthodox Marxism.[93]

After Tsar Nicholas II accepted a series of liberal reforms in his October Manifesto, Lenin believed it safer to return to St. Petersburg, arriving incognito.[94] Joining the editorial board of Novaya Zhizn (New Life), a radical legal newspaper run by Maxim Gorky‘s wife Maria Andreyeva, he used it to discuss issues facing the RSDLP.[95] He encouraged the party to seek out a much wider membership, and advocated the continual escalation of violent confrontation, believing both to be necessary for the revolution to succeed.[96] Although he briefly began to support the idea of reconciliation between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks,[97] at the 4th Party Congress in Stockholm, Sweden in April 1906 the Mensheviks condemned Lenin for supporting bank robberies and encouraging violence.[98]

Lenin’s factionalism led him to split with Julius Martov (left) and the Mensheviks, and thenAlexander Bogdanov (right) within the Bolshevik faction

A Bolshevik Centre was set up in Kuokkala, Grand Duchy of Finland, which was then a semi-autonomous part of the Empire,[99] before the 5th RSDLP Congress was held in London in May 1907, where the Bolsheviks regained dominance within the party.[100] However, as the Tsarist government disbanded the Second Duma and the Okhrana cracked down on revolutionaries, Lenin decided to flee Finland for Sweden, undertaking much of the journey by foot. From there, he made it to Switzerland.[101]Alexander Bogdanov and other prominent Bolsheviks decided to relocate the Bolshevik Centre to Paris, France; although Lenin disagreed, he moved to the city in December 1908.[102] Lenin disliked Paris, lambasting it as “a foul hole”, and sued a motorist who knocked him off his bike while there.[103]

Here, Lenin revived his polemics against the Mensheviks,[104] who objected to his advocacy of violent expropriations and thefts such as the 1907 Tiflis bank robbery, which the Bolsheviks were using to fund their activities.[105] Lenin also became heavily critical of Bogdanov and his supporters; Bogdanov believed that a socialist-oriented culture had to be developed among Russia’s proletariat for them to become a successful revolutionary vehicle, whereas Lenin favoured a vanguard of socialist intelligentsia who could lead the working-classes in revolution. Furthermore, Bogdanov – influenced by Ernest Mach – believed that all concepts of the world were relative, whereas Lenin stuck to the orthodox Marxist view that there was an objective reality to the world, independent of human observation.[106]Although Bogdanov and Lenin went on a holiday together to Gorky’s villa in Capri, Italy, in April 1908,[107] on returning to Paris, Lenin encouraged a split within the Bolshevik faction between his and Bogdanov’s followers, accusing the latter of deviating from Marxism.[108]

He lived briefly in London in May 1908, where he used the British Museum library to write Materialism and Empirio-criticism, an attack on Bogdanov’s relativist perspective, which he lambasted as a “bourgeois-reactionary falsehood”.[109] Increasing numbers of Bolsheviks, including close Lenin supporters Alexei Rykov andLev Kamenev, were becoming angry with Lenin’s factionalism.[110] The Okhrana recognised Lenin’s factionalist attitude and deemed it damaging to the RSDLP, thereby sending a spy, Roman Malinovsky, to become a vocal supporter and ally of Lenin within the party. It is possible that Lenin was aware of Malinowsky’s allegiance, and used him to feed false information to the Okhrana, and many Bolsheviks had expressed their suspicions that he was a spy to Lenin. However, he informed Gorky many years later that “I never saw through that scoundrel Malinowsky.”[111]

In August 1910 Lenin attended the 8th Congress of the Second International in Copenhagen, where he represented the RSDLP on the International Bureau, before going to Stockholm, where he holidayed with his mother; the last time that he would see her alive.[112] Lenin moved with his wife and sisters to Bombon in Seine-et-Marne, although 5 weeks later moved back to Paris, settling in the Rue Marie-Rose.[113] In France, Lenin became friends with the French Bolshevik Inessa Armand; they remained close from 1910 through to 1912, and some biographers believe that they had an extra-marital affair, although this remains unproven.[114] He also set up a RSDLP school at Longjumeau where he lectured Russian recruits on a variety of topics in May 1911.[115] Meanwhile, at a Paris meeting in June 1911 the RSDLP Central Committee decided to draw the focus of operations from Paris and back to Russia; they ordered the closure of the Bolshevik Centre and its newspaper, Proletari.[116] Seeking to rebuild his influence in the party, Lenin arranged for a party conference to be held in Prague in January 1912, aided by his supporter Sergo Ordzhonikidze. 16 of the 18 attendants were Bolsheviks, but they heavily criticised Lenin for his factionalism, and lost much personal authority.[117]

Desiring to be closer to Russia as the emigrant community were becoming decreasingly influential, Lenin moved to Krakow in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, a culturally Polish part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He liked the city, and used the library at Jagellonian University to conduct his ongoing research.[118] From here, he was able to stay in close contact with the RSDLP operating in the Russian Empire, with members often visiting him, and he convinced the Bolshevik members of the Duma to split from their alliance with Menshevik members.[119] In January 1913, Stalin – whom Lenin referred to as the “wonderful Georgian” – came to visit, with the pair discussing the future of non-Russian ethnic groups in the Empire.[120] Due to the ailing health of both Lenin and his wife, they moved to the rural area of Biały Dunajec.[121] Nadya required surgery on her goiter, with Lenin taking her to Bern, Switzerland, to have it undertaken by the expensive specialist Theodor Kocher.[122]

First World War: 1914–17

“The [First World] war is being waged for the division of colonies and the robbery of foreign territory; thieves have fallen out–and to refer to the defeats at a given moment of one of the thieves in order to identify the interests of all thieves with the interests of the nation or the fatherland is an unconscionable bourgeois lie.”

Lenin[123]

Lenin was back in Galicia when the First World War broke out.[124] The war pitted the Russian Empire against the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and due to his Russian citizenship, Lenin was arrested and briefly imprisoned until his anti-tsarist credentials were explained.[125] Lenin and his wife moved to Bern, Switzerland,[126] relocating to Zurich in February 1916.[127] Lenin was angry that the German Social-Democratic Party had supported the German war effort, thereby contravening the Stuttgart resolution of the Second International that socialist parties would oppose the conflict. As a result, Lenin saw the Second International as defunct.[128] Lenin attended the Zimmerwald Conference in September 1915, and the Kiental conference in April 1916,[129] urging socialists across the continent to convert the “imperialist war” into a continent-wide “civil war” with the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and aristocracy.[130] He hoped the German army would greatly weaken the Tsarist regime in Russia, thereby allowing the proletariat revolution to succeed.[131]

Lenin with Swedish socialists Ture Nerman and Carl Lindhagen in Stockholm, March 1917

Lenin wrote Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, in which he argued that imperialism was a product of monopoly capitalism, as capitalists sought to increase their profits by extending into new territories where wages were lower and raw materials cheaper. He believed that competition and conflict would increase and that war between the imperialist powers would continue until they were overthrown by proletariat revolution and socialism established. It would be published in September 1917.[132]

Lenin devoted much time to reading the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Aristotle, all of whom had been key influences on Marx.[133] In doing so he rejected his earlier interpretations of Marxism; whereas he had once believed that policies could be developed on the basis of predetermined scientific principles, he now believed that the only test of whether a practice was right or not was through practice.[134] Although still perceiving himself as an orthodox Marxist, he began to divert from some of Marx’s predictions regarding societal development; whereas Marx had believed that a “bourgeoisie-democratic revolution” of the middle-classes had to take place before a “socialist revolution” of the proletariat, Lenin believed that in Russia, the proletariat could overthrow the Tsarist regime without the intermediate revolution.[135] In July 1916, Lenin’s mother died, although he was unable to attend her funeral.[136] Her death deeply affected him, and he became depressed, fearing that he would not live long enough to witness the socialist revolution.[137]

Consolidating power

February Revolution

Main article: February Revolution

Vilén, Lenin bewigged and clean shaven, Finland, 11 August 1917

In February 1917 popular demonstrations in Russia provoked by the hardship of war forced Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate. The monarchy was replaced by an uneasy political relationship between, on the one hand, a Provisional Government of parliamentary figures and, on the other, an array of “Soviets” (most prominently the Petrograd Soviet): revolutionary councils directly elected by workers, soldiers and peasants. Lenin was still in exile in Zurich.

Lenin was preparing to go to the Altstadt library after lunch on 15 March when a fellow exile, the Pole Mieczyslav Bronski, burst in to exclaim: “Haven’t you heard the news? There’s a revolution in Russia!” The next day Lenin wrote to Alexandra Kollontai in Stockholm, insisting on “revolutionary propaganda, agitation and struggle with the aim of an international proletarian revolution and for the conquest of power by the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies”. The next day: “Spread out! Rouse new sections! Awaken fresh initiative, form new organisations in every stratum and prove to them that peace can come only with the armed Soviet of Workers’ Deputies in power.”[138]

Lenin was determined to return to Russia at once. But that was not an easy task in the middle of World War I. Switzerland was surrounded by the warring countries of France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and the seas were dominated by Russia’s ally Britain. Air travel was suggested, but no suitable aircraft existed with the capability of long-range flight without having to refuel in an occupied area. Lenin also considered crossing Germany with a Swedish passport, but Krupskaya joked that he would give himself away by swearing at Mensheviks in Russian in his sleep.[138] More realistically, neither Lenin nor Krupskaya could speak any Swedish.

Negotiations with the Provisional Government to obtain passage through Germany for the Russian exiles in return for German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war dragged on. Eventually, bypassing the Provisional Government, on 31 March the Swiss Communist Fritz Platten obtained permission from the German Foreign Minister through his ambassador in Switzerland, Baron Gisbert von Romberg, for Lenin and other Russian exiles to travel through Germany to Russia in a sealed one-carriage train. At Lenin’s request the carriage would be protected from interference by a special grant of extraterritorial status. There is much evidence of German financial commitment to the mission of Lenin.[139] The aim was to disintegrate Russian resistance in the First World War by spreading revolutionary unrest. Weeks says, “Well after April 1917, the Germans continued to subsidize the subversive Lenin as well as his subsequent Bolshevik regime in to 1918.”[140] In July 1917, the Provisional Government, after discovering German funding for the Bolsheviks, outlawed the party and issued an arrest warrant for Lenin.[141]

A report from a German secret agent to Russia informing about Lenin’s arrival to Petrograd and his actions being fully in line with German expectations

On 9 April Lenin and Krupskaya met their fellow exiles in Bern, a group eventually numbering thirty boarded a train that took them to Zurich. From there they travelled to the specially arranged train that was waiting at Gottmadingen, just short of the official German crossing station at Singen. Accompanied by two German Army officers, who sat at the rear of the single carriage behind a chalked line, the exiles travelled through Frankfurt and Berlin to Sassnitz (arriving 12 April), where a ferry took them to Trelleborg. Krupskaya noted how, looking out of the carriage window as they passed through wartime Germany, the exiles were “struck by the total absence of grown-up men. Only women, teenagers and children could be seen at the wayside stations, on the fields, and in the streets of the towns.”[138] Once in Sweden the group travelled by train to Stockholm, over the border at Haparanda and thence back to Russia.

Just before midnight on 16 April [O.S. 3 April] 1917, Lenin’s train arrived at the Finland Station in Petrograd. He was greeted, to the sound of La Marseillaise, by a crowd of workers, sailors and soldiers bearing red flags: by now a ritual in revolutionary Russia for welcoming home political exiles.[142] Lenin was formally welcomed by Chkheidze, the Menshevik Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. But Lenin pointedly turned to the crowd instead to address it on the international importance of the Russian Revolution:

The piratical imperialist war is the beginning of civil war throughout Europe … The world-wide Socialist revolution has already dawned … Germany is seething … Any day now the whole of European capitalism may crash … Sailors, comrades, we have to fight for a socialist revolution, to fight until the proletariat wins full victory! Long live the worldwide socialist revolution![143]

April Theses

Main article: April Theses

On the train from Switzerland, Lenin had composed his famous April Theses: his programme for the Bolshevik Party. In the Theses, Lenin argued that the Bolsheviks should not rest content, like almost all other Russian socialists, with the “bourgeois” February Revolution. Instead, the Bolsheviks should press ahead to a socialist revolution of the workers and poorest peasants:

2) The specific feature of the present situation in Russia is that the country is passing from the first stage of the revolution—which, owing to the insufficient class-consciousness and organisation of the proletariat, placed power in the hands of the bourgeoisie—to its second stage, which must place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasants.[144]

Lenin argued that this socialist revolution would be achieved by the Soviets taking power from the parliamentary Provisional Government: “No support for the Provisional Government … Not a parliamentary republic – to return to a parliamentary republic from the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies would be a retrograde step – but a republic of Soviets of Workers’, Agricultural Labourers’ and Peasants’ Deputies throughout the country, from top to bottom.”[144]

To achieve this, Lenin argued, the Bolsheviks’ immediate task was to campaign diligently among the Russian people to persuade them of the need for Soviet power:

4) Recognition of the fact that in most of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies our Party is in a minority, so far a small minority, … and that therefore our task is, as long as this government yields to the influence of the bourgeoisie, to present a patient, systematic, and persistent explanation of the errors of their tactics, an explanation especially adapted to the practical needs of the masses.[144]

The April Theses were more radical than virtually anything Lenin’s fellow revolutionaries had heard. Previous Bolshevik policy had been like that of the Mensheviks in this respect: that Russia was ready only for bourgeois, not socialist, revolution. Joseph Stalin and Lev Kamenev, who had returned from exile in Siberia in mid-March and taken control of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda, had been campaigning for support for the Provisional Government. When Lenin presented his Theses to a joint Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) meeting, he was booed by the Mensheviks. Boris Bogdanov called them “the ravings of a madman”. Of the Bolsheviks, only Kollontai at first supported the Theses.[145]

Lenin arrived at the revolutionary April Theses thanks to his work in exile on the theory of imperialism. Through his study of worldwide politics and economics, Lenin came to view Russian politics in international perspective. In the conditions of the First World War, Lenin believed that, although Russian capitalism was underdeveloped, a socialist revolution in Russia could spark revolution in the more advanced nations of Europe, which could then help Russia achieve economic and social development. A. J. P. Taylor argued: “Lenin made his revolution for the sake of Europe, not for the sake of Russia, and he expected Russia’s preliminary revolution to be eclipsed when the international revolution took place. Lenin did not invent the iron curtain. On the contrary it was invented against him by the anti-revolutionary Powers of Europe. Then it was called the cordon sanitaire.[146]

In this way, Lenin moved away from the previous Bolshevik policy of pursuing only bourgeois revolution in Russia, and towards the position of his fellow Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his theory of permanent revolution, which may have influenced Lenin at this time.[147]

Controversial as it was in April 1917, the programme of the April Theses made the Bolshevik party a political refuge for Russians disillusioned with the Provisional Government and the war.[148][149]

October Revolution

Main article: October Revolution

Painting of Lenin in front of theSmolny Institute by Isaak Brodsky

In Petrograd dissatisfaction with the regime culminated in the spontaneous July Days riots, by industrial workers and soldiers.[150] After being suppressed, these riots were blamed by the government on Lenin and the Bolsheviks.[151]Aleksandr Kerensky, Grigory Aleksinsky, and other opponents, also accused the Bolsheviks, especially Lenin—of being Imperial German agents provocateurs; on 17 July, Leon Trotsky defended them:[152]

An intolerable atmosphere has been created, in which you, as well as we, are choking. They are throwing dirty accusations at Lenin and Zinoviev. Lenin has fought thirty years for the revolution. I have fought [for] twenty years against the oppression of the people. And we cannot but cherish a hatred for German militarism . . . I have been sentenced by a German court to eight months’ imprisonment for my struggle against German militarism. This everybody knows. Let nobody in this hall say that we are hirelings of Germany.[153]

In the event, the Provisional Government arrested the Bolsheviks and outlawed their Party, prompting Lenin to go into hiding and flee to Finland. In exile again, reflecting on the July Days and its aftermath, Lenin determined that, to prevent the triumph of counter-revolutionary forces, the Provisional Government must be overthrown by an armed uprising.[154]Meanwhile, he published State and Revolution (1917) proposing government by the soviets (worker-, soldier- and peasant-elected councils) rather than by a parliamentary body.[155]

In late August 1917, while Lenin was in hiding in Finland, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army General Lavr Kornilov sent troops from the front to Petrograd in what appeared to be a military coup attempt against the Provisional Government. Kerensky panicked and turned to the Petrograd Soviet for help, allowing the revolutionaries to organise workers as Red Guards to defend Petrograd. The coup petered out before it reached Petrograd thanks to the industrial action of the Petrograd workers and the soldiers’ increasing unwillingness to obey their officers.[156]

However, faith in the Provisional Government had been severely shaken. Lenin’s slogan since the April Theses – “All power to the soviets!” – became more plausible the more the Provisional Government was discredited in public eyes. The Bolsheviks won a majority in the Petrograd Soviet on 31 August and in the Moscow Soviet on 5 September.[157]

In October Lenin returned from Finland. From the Smolny Institute for girls, Lenin directed the Provisional Government’s deposition (6–8 November 1917, 24–26 October O.S.), and the storming (7–8 November) of the Winter Palace to realise the Kerensky capitulation that established Bolshevik government in Russia.

Forming a government

Lenin working in the Kremlin, 1918

Lenin had argued in a newspaper article in September 1917:

The peaceful development of any revolution is, generally speaking, extremely rare and difficult … but … a peaceful development of the revolution is possible and probable if all power is transferred to the Soviets. The struggle of parties for power within the Soviets may proceed peacefully, if the Soviets are made fully democratic[158]

The October Revolution had been relatively peaceful. The revolutionary forces already had de facto control of the capital thanks to the defection of the city garrison. Few troops had stayed to defend the Provisional Government in the Winter Palace.[159] Most citizens had simply continued about their daily business while the Provisional Government was actually overthrown.[156]

It thus appeared that all power had been transferred to the Soviets relatively peacefully. On the evening of the October Revolution, the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets met, with a Bolshevik-Left SR majority, in the Smolny Institute in Petrograd. When the left-wing Menshevik Martov proposed an all-party Soviet government, the Bolshevik Lunacharsky stated that his party did not oppose the idea. The Bolshevik delegates voted unanimously in favour of the proposal.[160]

However, not all Russian socialists supported transferring all power to the Soviets. The Right SRs and Mensheviks walked out of this very first session of the Congress of Soviets in protest at the overthrow of the Provisional Government, of which their parties had been members.[161]

The next day, on the evening of 26 October O.S., Lenin attended the Congress of Soviets: undisguised in public for the first time since the July Days, although not yet having regrown his trademark beard. The American journalist John Reed described the man who appeared at about 8:40 pm to “a thundering wave of cheers”:

A short, stocky figure, with a big head set down in his shoulders, bald and bulging. Little eyes, a snubbish nose, wide, generous mouth, and heavy chin; clean-shaven now, but already beginning to bristle with the well-known beard of his past and future. Dressed in shabby clothes, his trousers much too long for him. Unimpressive, to be the idol of a mob, loved and revered as perhaps few leaders in history have been. A strange popular leader—a leader purely by virtue of intellect; colourless, humourless, uncompromising and detached, without picturesque idiosyncrasies—but with the power of explaining profound ideas in simple terms, of analysing a concrete situation. And combined with shrewdness, the greatest intellectual audacity.[162]

Lenin and Sverdlov looking over Marx and Engels monument, 1918

According to Reed, Lenin waited for the applause to subside before declaring simply: “We shall now proceed to construct the Socialist order!” Lenin proceeded to propose to the Congress a Decree on Peace, calling on “all the belligerent peoples and to their Governments to begin immediately negotiations for a just and democratic peace”, and a Decree on Land, transferring ownership of all “land-owners’ estates, and all lands belonging to the Crown, [and] to monasteries” to the Peasants’ Soviets. The Congress passed the Decree on Peace unanimously, and the Decree on Land faced only one vote in opposition.[163]

Having approved these key Bolshevik policies, the Congress of Soviets proceeded to elect the Bolsheviks into power as theCouncil of People’s Commissars by “an enormous majority”.[164] The Bolsheviks offered posts in the Council to the Left SRs: an offer that the Left SRs at first refused,[165] but later accepted, joining the Bolsheviks in coalition on 12 December O.S.[166]Lenin had suggested that Trotsky take the position of Chairman of the Council—the head of the Soviet government—but Trotsky refused on the grounds that his Jewishness would be controversial, and he took the post of Commissar for Foreign Affairs instead.[165] Thus, Lenin became the head of government in Russia.

Trotsky announced the composition of the new Soviet Central Executive Committee: with a Bolshevik majority, but with places reserved for the representatives of the other parties, including the seceded Right SRs and Mensheviks. Trotsky concluded the Congress: “We welcome into the Government all parties and groups which will adopt our programme.”[164]

Lenin declared in 1920 that “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the entire country” in modernising Russia into a 20th-century country:[167]

We must show the peasants that the organisation of industry on the basis of modern, advanced technology, on electrification, which will provide a link between town and country, will put an end to the division between town and country, will make it possible to raise the level of culture in the countryside and to overcome, even in the most remote corners of land, backwardness, ignorance, poverty, disease, and barbarism.[168]

Yet the Bolshevik Government had to first withdraw Russia from the First World War (1914–18). Facing continuing Imperial German eastward advance, Lenin proposed immediate Russian withdrawal from the West European war; yet, other, doctrinaire Bolshevik leaders (e.g. Nikolai Bukharin) advocated continuing in the war to foment revolution in Germany. Lead peace treaty negotiator Leon Trotsky proposed No War, No Peace, an intermediate-stance Russo–German treaty conditional upon neither belligerent annexing conquered lands; the negotiations collapsed, and the Germans renewed their attack, conquering much of the (agricultural) territory of west Russia. As a result, Lenin’s withdrawal proposal then gained majority support, and, on 3 March 1918, Russia withdrew from the First World War via the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, losing much of its European territory. Because of the German threat, Lenin moved the Soviet Government from Petrograd to Moscow on 10–11 March 1918.[169][170]

On 19 January 1918, relying upon the soviets, the Bolsheviks, allied with anarchists and the Socialist Revolutionaries, dissolved the Russian Constituent Assemblythereby consolidating the Bolshevik Government’s political power. Yet, that left-wing coalition collapsed consequent to the Social Revolutionaries opposing the territorially expensive Brest-Litovsk treaty the Bolsheviks reached an accord with Imperial Germany. The anarchists and the Socialist Revolutionaries then joined other political parties in attempting to depose the Bolshevik Government, who defended themselves with persecution and jail for the anti-Bolsheviks.

To initiate the Russian economic recovery, on 21 February 1920, he launched the GOELRO plan, the State Commission for Electrification of Russia(Государственная комиссия по электрификации России), and also established free universal health care, free education systems, promulgated the politico-civilrights of women.[171] and also legalised homosexuality, being the first country in the modern age to do this.[172]

Establishing the Cheka

Main article: Cheka

On 20 December 1917, “The Whole-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage”, the Cheka (Chrezvychaynaya Komissiya – Extraordinary Commission) was created by a decree issued by Lenin to defend the Russian Revolution.[173] The establishment of the Cheka, secret service, headed by Felix Dzerzhinsky, formally consolidated the censorship established earlier, when on “17 November, the Central Executive Committee passed a decree giving the Bolsheviks control over all newsprint and wide powers of closing down newspapers critical of the régime. . . .”;[174] non-Bolshevik soviets were disbanded; anti-soviet newspapers were closed until Pravda (Truth) and Izvestia (The News) established their communications monopoly. According to Leonard Schapiro the Bolshevik “refusal to come to terms with the [Revolutionary] socialists, and the dispersal of the Constituent assembly, led to the logical result thatrevolutionary terror would now be directed, not only against traditional enemies, such as the bourgeoisie or right-wing opponents, but against anyone, be he socialist, worker, or peasant, who opposed Bolshevik rule”.[175] On 19 December 1918, a year after its creation, a resolution was adopted at Lenin’s behest that forbade the Bolshevik’s own press from publishing “defamatory articles” about the Cheka.[176] As Lenin put it: “A Good Communist is also a good Chekist.”[176]

Failed assassinations

Lenin survived two serious assassination attempts. The first occasion was on 14 January 1918 in Petrograd, when assassins ambushed Lenin in his automobile after a speech. He and Fritz Platten were in the back seat when assassins began shooting, and “Platten grabbed Lenin by the head and pushed him down… Platten’s hand was covered in blood, having been grazed by a bullet as he was shielding Lenin”.[177]

The second event was on 30 August 1918, when the Socialist RevolutionaryFanya Kaplan approached Lenin at his automobile after a speech; he was resting a foot on the running board as he spoke with a woman. Kaplan called to Lenin, and when he turned to face her she shot at him three times. The first bullet struck his arm, the second bullet his jaw and neck, and the third missed him, wounding the woman with whom he was speaking; the wounds felled him and he became unconscious.[178] Kaplan said during her interrogation that she considered Lenin to be “a traitor to the Revolution” for dissolving the Constituent Assembly and for outlawing other leftist parties.[179]

Pravda publicly ridiculed Fanya Kaplan as a failed assassin, a latter-day Charlotte Corday (the murderess of Jean-Paul Marat) who could not derail the Russian Revolution, reassuring readers that, immediately after surviving the assassination: “Lenin, shot through twice, with pierced lungs spilling blood, refuses help and goes on his own. The next morning, still threatened with death, he reads papers, listens, learns, and observes to see that the engine of the locomotive that carries us towards global revolution has not stopped working…”; despite unharmed lungs, the neck wound did spill blood into a lung.[180]

Historian Richard Pipes reports that “the impression one gains … is that the Bolsheviks deliberately underplayed the event to convince the public that, whatever happened to Lenin, they were firmly in control”. Moreover, in a letter to his wife (7 September 1918), Leonid Borisovich Krasin, a Tsarist and Soviet régime diplomat, describes the public atmosphere and social response to the failed assassination attempt on 30 August and to Lenin’s survival:

As it happens, the attempt to kill Lenin has made him much more popular than he was. One hears a great many people, who are far from having any sympathy with the Bolsheviks, saying that it would be an absolute disaster if Lenin had succumbed to his wounds, as it was first thought he would. And they are quite right, for, in the midst of all this chaos and confusion, he is the backbone of the new body politic, the main support on which everything rests.[181]

Red Terror

Main article: Red Terror

Bolshevik propaganda poster from 1920, showing Lenin sweeping away monarchists and capitalists; the caption reads, “Comrade Lenin Cleanses the Earth of Filth”

The Bolsheviks instructed Felix Dzerzhinsky to commence a Red Terror, an organized program of arrests, imprisonments, and killings.[182] At Moscow, execution lists signed by Lenin authorised the shooting of 25 former ministers, civil servants, and 765 White Guards in September 1918.[183]

Earlier, in October, Lev Kamenev and cohort, had warned the Party that terrorist rule was inevitable[184] In late 1918, when he andNikolai Bukharin tried curbing Chekist excesses, Lenin overruled them; in 1921, via the Politburo, he expanded the Cheka’s discretionary death-penalty powers.[185][186]

The White Russian counter-revolution failed for want of popular support and bad coordination among its disparate units. Meanwhile, Lenin put the Terror under a centralized secret police (“Cheka”) in summer 1918.[187] By May 1919, there were some 16,000“enemies of the people” imprisoned in the Cheka’s katorgalabour camps; by September 1921 the prisoner populace exceeded 70,000.[188][189][190][191][192][193]

During the Civil War both the Red and White Russians committed atrocities[clarify][citation needed]. The Red Terror was Lenin’s policy (e.g. Decossackisation i.e. repressions against the Kuban and Don Cossacks) against given social classes, while the counter-revolutionary White Terror was racial and political, against Jews, anti-monarchists, and Communists, (cf. White Movement).[194] Such numbers are recorded in cities controlled by the Bolsheviks:

In Kharkov there were between 2,000 and 3,000 executions in February–June 1919, and another 1,000–2,000 when the town was taken again in December of that year; in Rostov-on-Don, approximately 1,000 in January 1920; in Odessa, 2,200 in May–August 1919, then 1,500–3,000 between February 1920 and February 1921; in Kiev, at least 3,000 in February–August 1919; in Ekaterinodar, at least 3,000 between August 1920 and February 1921; In Armavir, a small town in Kuban, between 2,000 and 3,000 in August–October 1920. The list could go on and on.[195]

White Russian anti-Bolshevik propaganda poster

Professor Christopher Read states that though terror was employed at the height of the Civil War fighting, “from 1920 onwards the resort to terror was much reduced and disappeared from Lenin’s mainstream discourses and practices”.[196]

While the Russian famine of 1921, which left six million dead, was going on, the Bolsheviks planned to capture church property and use its value to relieve the victims.[197][198][199] About the resistance to this, Lenin said: “we must precisely now smash the Black Hundreds clergy most decisively and ruthlessly and put down all resistance with such brutality that they will not forget it for several decades.” He also said: “At this meeting pass a secret resolution of the congress that the removal of property of value, especially from the very richest lauras, monasteries, and churches, must be carried out with ruthless resolution, leaving nothing in doubt, and in the very shortest time. The greater the number of representatives of the reactionary clergy and the reactionary bourgeoisie that we succeed in shooting on this occasion, the better”[200] HistorianOrlando Figes has cited an estimate of perhaps 8,000 priests and laymen being executed as a result of this letter.[201]

According to historian Michael Kort, “During 1919 and 1920, out of a population of approximately 1.5 million Don Cossacks, the Bolshevik regime killed or deported an estimated 300,000 to 500,000″.[202] And the crushing of the revolts in Kronstadt and Tambov in southern Russia in 1921 resulted in tens of thousands[clarify][quantify] of executions.[203] Estimates for the total number of people killed in the Red Terror range from 50,000 to over a million.[204][204][205][206][207][208][209][210]

Trotsky, Lenin and Kamenev at the II Party Congress in 1919

Civil War

Main article: Russian Civil War

In 1917, as an anti-imperialist, Lenin said that oppressed peoples had the unconditional right to secede from the Russian Empire; however, at end of the Civil War, the USSR annexed Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.[211] Lenin defended the annexations as, “geopolitical protection against capitalist imperial depredations.”[212]

To maintain the war-isolated cities, keep the armies fed, and to avoid economic collapse, the Bolshevik government established war communism, via prodrazvyorstka, food requisitioning from the peasantry, for little payment, which peasants resisted with reduced harvests. The Bolsheviks blamed the kulaks’ withholding grain to increase profits; but statistics indicate most such business occurred in the black market economy.[213][214] Nonetheless, the prodrazvyorstka resulted in armed confrontations, which the Cheka and Red Army suppressed with shooting hostages, poison gas, and labour-camp deportation; yet Lenin increased the requisitioning.[215][216][217]

1920–22

Lenin in 1920.

After the March 1921 left-wing Kronstadt Rebellion mutiny, Lenin abolished war communism with its food requisitioning, and tight control over industry with a much more liberal New Economic Policy (NEP), which allowed private enterprise. The NEP successfully stabilised the economy and stimulated industry and agriculture by means of a market economy where the government did not set prices and wages. The NEP was his pragmatic recognition of the political and economic realities, despite being a tactical, ideological retreat from the socialist ideal.[218] Politically, Robert Service claims that Lenin “advocated the final eradication of all remaining threats, real or potential, to his state. For Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks he demanded the staging of show trials followed by exemplary severe punishment.”[219]

In international terms Lenin spoke of world revolution. The stalemate in the war with Poland and the failures of Communist uprisings in Central Europe brought the realisation that the revolution would come slowly. To get it on track Lenin in 1919 set up the Third International, or Comintern.[220][221]

Decline and death

During Lenin’s sickness (1922–23), Stalin used this fake photograph (it was a composite of two shots) as part of his claim to be Lenin’s successor.[222]

The mental strains of leading a revolution, governing, and fighting a civil war aggravated the physical debilitation consequent to the wounds from the attempted assassinations; Lenin retained a bullet in his neck, until a German surgeon removed it on 24 April 1922.[223] When in good health Lenin worked fourteen to sixteen hours daily, occupied with minor, major, and routine matters. Around the time of Lenin’s death, Volkogonov said:

Lenin was involved in the challenges of delivering fuel into Ivanovo-Vosnesensk… the provision of clothing for miners, he was solving the question of dynamo construction, drafted dozens of routine documents, orders, trade agreements, was engaged in the allocation of rations, edited books and pamphlets at the request of his comrades, held hearings on the applications of peat, assisted in improving the workings at the “Novii Lessner” factory, clarified in correspondence with the engineer P. A. Kozmin the feasibility of using wind turbines for the electrification of villages… all the while serving as an adviser to party functionaries almost continuously.[224]

In March 1922 physicians prescribed rest for his fatigue and headaches. Upon returning to Petrograd in May 1922, Lenin suffered the first of three strokes, which left him unable to speak for weeks, and severely hampered motion in his right side. By June, he had substantially recovered; by August he resumed limited duties, delivering three long speeches in November. In December 1922, he suffered the second stroke that partly paralysed his right side, he then withdrew from active politics.

In March 1923, he suffered a third stroke; it ended his career. Lenin was mute and bed-ridden until his death but officially remained the leader of the Communist Party.

Persistent stories mark syphilis as the cause of Lenin’s death. A “retrospective diagnosis” published in The European Journal of Neurology in 2004 strengthens these suspicions.[225]

Lenin in 1923

After the first stroke, Lenin dictated government papers to Nadezhda; among them was Lenin’s Testament (changing the structure of the soviets), a document partly inspired by the 1922 Georgian Affair, which was a conflict about the way in which social and political transformation within a constituent republic was to be achieved. It criticised high-rank Communists, including Joseph Stalin,Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Nikolai Bukharin, and Leon Trotsky. About the Communist Party’s General Secretary (since 1922), Joseph Stalin, Lenin reported that the “unlimited authority” concentrated in him was unacceptable, and suggested that “comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post.” His phrasing, “Сталин слишком груб”, implies “personal rudeness, unnecessary roughness, lack of finesse”, flaws “intolerable in a Secretary-General”.

At Lenin’s death, Nadezhda mailed his testament to the central committee, to be read aloud to the 13th Party Congress in May 1924. However, to remain in power, the ruling troika—Stalin, Kamenev, Zinoviev—suppressed Lenin’s Testament; it was not published until 1925, in the United States, by the American intellectualMax Eastman. In that year, Trotsky published an article minimising the importance of Lenin’s Testament, saying that Lenin’s notes should not be perceived as a will, that it had been neither concealed, nor violated;[226] yet he did invoke it in later anti-Stalin polemics.[227][228]

Lenin died at 18.50 hrs, Moscow time, on 21 January 1924, aged 53, at his estate at Gorki settlement (later renamed Gorki Leninskiye). In the four days that the Bolshevik Leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin lay in state, more than 900,000 mourners viewed his body in the Hall of Columns; among the statesmen who expressed condolences to the Soviet Union was Chinese premier Sun Yat-sen, who said:

Through the ages of world history, thousands of leaders and scholars appeared who spoke eloquent words, but these remained words. You, Lenin, were an exception. You not only spoke and taught us, but translated your words into deeds. You created a new country. You showed us the road of joint struggle… You, great man that you are, will live on in the memories of the oppressed people through the centuries.[229]

Winston Churchill, who encouraged British intervention against the Russian Revolution, in league with the White Movement, to destroy the Bolsheviks and Bolshevism, said:

He alone could have led Russia into the enchanted quagmire; he alone could have found the way back to the causeway. He saw; he turned; he perished. The strong illumination that guided him was cut off at the moment when he had turned resolutely for home. The Russian people were left floundering in the bog. Their worst misfortune was his birth: their next worst his death.[230]

Funeral

Lenin’s funeral by I.Brodsky

The Soviet government publicly announced Lenin’s death the following day, with head of State Mikhail Kalinin tearfully reading an official statement to delegates of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets at 11am, the same time that a team of physicians began a postmortem of the body.[231] On 23 January, mourners from the Communist Party Central Committee, the Moscow party organisation, the trade unions and the soviets began to assemble at his house, with the body being removed from his home at about 10am the following day, being carried aloft in a red coffin by Kamenev, Zinoviev, Stalin, Bukharin, Bubhov and Krasin. Transported by train to Moscow, mourners gathered at every station along the way, and upon arriving in the city, a funerary procession carried the coffin for five miles to the House of Trade Unions, where the body lay in state.[232]

Pallbearers carrying Lenin’s coffin during his funeral, from Paveletsky Rail Terminal to the Labour Temple. Felix Dzerzhinsky at the front with Timofei Sapronov behind him and Lev Kamenev on the left.

Over the next three days, around a million mourners from across the Soviet Union came to see the body, many queuing for hours in the freezing conditions, with the events being filmed by the government.[233] On Saturday 26 January, the eleventh All-Union Congress of Soviets met to pay respects to the deceased leader, with speeches being made by Kalinin, Zinoviev and Stalin, but notably not Trotsky, who had been convalescing in the Caucasus.[233] Lenin’s funeral took place the following day, when his body was carried to Red Square, accompanied by martial music, where assembled crowds listened to a series of speeches before the corpse was carried into a vault, followed by the singing of the revolutionary hymn, “You fell in sacrifice.”[233]

Three days after his death, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in his honour, remaining so until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, when its former name Saint Petersburg was restored, yet the administrative area remains Leningrad Oblast. In the early 1920s, the Russian cosmism movement proved so popular that Leonid Krasin and Alexander Bogdanov proposed tocryonically preserve Lenin for future resurrection, yet, despite buying the requisite equipment, that was not done.[234]Instead, the body of V. I. Lenin was embalmed and permanently exhibited in Lenin’s Mausoleum, in Moscow, on 27 January 1924.

Despite the official diagnosis of death from stroke consequences, the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov reported that Lenin died of neurosyphilis, according to a publication by V. Lerner and colleagues in the European Journal of Neurology in 2004. The authors also note that “It is possible that future DNA technology applied to Lenin’s preserved brain material could ultimately establish or disprove neurosyphilis as the primary cause of Lenin’s death.”[235]

In a poll conducted in 2012 by a Russian website, 48 per cent of the people that responded voted that the body of the former leader should be buried.[236][237]

Lenin’s funeral train consisting of the locomotive and funeral van still containing the original wreaths is preserved at the Museum of the Moscow Railway, Paveletsky Rail Terminal in Moscow.

Political ideology

Main article: Leninism

Lenin giving a speech.

Lenin was a Marxist and principally a revolutionary. His revolutionary theory—the belief in the necessity of a violent overthrow of capitalism through communist revolution, to be followed by a dictatorship of the proletariat as the first stage of moving towards communism, and the need for a vanguard party to lead the proletariat in this effort—developed into Marxism–Leninism, a highly influential ideology. Although a Marxist, Lenin was also influenced by earlier currents of Russian socialist thought such asNarodnichestvo.[238] Conversely, he derided Marxists who adopted from contemporary non-Marxist philosophers and sociologists.[239]He believed that his interpretation of Marxism was the sole authentic one.[240] Robert Service noted that Lenin considered “moral questions” to be “an irrelevance”, rejecting the concept of moral absolutism; instead he judged whether an action was justifiable based upon its chances of success for the revolutionary cause.[241]

Lenin was an internationalist, and a keen supporter of world revolution, thereby deeming national borders to be an outdated concept and nationalism a distraction from class struggle.[242] He believed that under revolutionary socialism, there would be “the inevitable merging of nations” and the ultimate establishment of “a United States of the World“.[243] He opposed federalism, deeming it to be bourgeoisie, instead emphasising the need for a centralised unitary state.[244]

Lenin the icon: A 1929 Laz language newspaper featuring Lenin’s writing

Lenin was an anti-imperialist, and believed that all nations deserved “the right of self-determination”.[244] He thus supportedwars of national liberation, accepting that such conflicts might be necessary for a minority group to break away from asocialist state, asserting that the latter were not “holy or insured against mistakes or weaknesses”.[245]

He also staunchly criticised anti-Semitism within the Russian Empire, commenting “It is not the Jews who are the enemies of the working people. The enemies of the workers are the capitalists of all countries. Among the Jews there are working people, and they form the majority. They are our brothers, who, like us, are oppressed by capital; they are our comrades in the struggle for socialism.”[246]

He believed that revolution in the Third World would come about through an alliance of the proletarians with the rural peasantry.[247] In 1923 Lenin said:

The outcome of the struggle will be determined by the fact that Russia, India, China, etc,. account for the overwhelming majority of the population of the globe. And during the last few years it is this majority that has been drawn into the struggle for emancipation with extraordinary rapidity, so that in this respect there cannot be the slightest doubt what the final outcome of the world struggle will be. In this sense the complete victory of socialism is fully and absolutely assured.[248]

Lenin believed that representative democracy had simply been used to give the illusion of democracy while maintaining the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie; describing the U.S. representative democratic system, he described the “spectacular and meaningless duels between two bourgeois parties”, both of whom were led by “astute multimillionaires” who exploited the American proletariat.[249]

Writings

Lenin was a prolific political theoretician and philosopher who wrote about the practical aspects of carrying out a proletarian revolution; he wrote pamphlets, articles, and books, without a stenographer or secretary, until prevented by illness.[250] He simultaneously corresponded with comrades, allies, and friends, in Russia and world-wide. His Collected Works comprise 54 volumes, each of about 650 pages, translated into English in 45 volumes by Progress Publishers, Moscow 1960–70.[251]

After Lenin’s death, the USSR selectively censored his writings, to establish the dogma of the infallibility of Lenin, Stalin (his successor), and the Central Committee;[252] thus, the Soviet fifth edition (55 vols., 1958–65) of Lenin’s œuvre deleted the Lenin–Stalin contradictions, and all that was unfavourable to the founder of the USSR.[253] The historian Richard Pipes published a documentary collection of letters and telegrams excluded from the Soviet fifth edition, proposing that edition as incomplete.[254]

Personal life and characteristics

“[Lenin’s collected writings] reveal in detail a man with iron will, self-enslaving self-discipline, scorn for opponents and obstacles, the cold determination of a zealot, the drive of a fanatic, and the ability to convince or browbeat weaker persons by his singleness of purpose, imposing intensity, impersonal approach, personal sacrifice, political astuteness, and complete conviction of the possession of the absolute truth. His life became the history of the Bolshevik movement.”

—Biographer Louis Fischer, 1964.[255]

Lenin believed himself to be a man of destiny, having an unshakable belief in the righteousness of his cause,[256] and in his own ability as a revolutionary leader.[257] Historian Richard Pipes noted that he exhibited a great deal of charisma and personal magnetism,[258] and that he had “an extraordinary capacity for disciplined work and total commitment to the revolutionary cause.”[259] Aside from Russian, Lenin spoke and read French, German, and English.[260]

Lenin had a strong emotional hatred of the Tsarist authorities,[261] with biographer Louis Fischer describing him as “a lover of radical change and maximum upheaval”.[262] Historian and biographer Robert Serviceasserted that Lenin had been an intensely emotional young man,[263] who developed an “emotional attachment” to his ideological heroes, such as Marx, Engels and Chernyshevsky; he owned portraits of them,[264] and privately asserted that he was “in love” with Marx.[265] Lenin was an atheist, and believed that socialism was inherently atheistic; he thus deemed Christian socialism to be a contradiction in terms.[266]

Lenin’s wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya

Concerned with physical fitness, he took regular exercise,[267] enjoyed cycling, swimming, and hunting,[268] also developed a passion for mountain walking in the Swiss peaks.[269] He despised untidiness, always keeping his work desk tidy and his pencils sharpened,[270] and insisted on total silence while he was working.[271] In personal dealings with others, he was modest, and for this reason disliked the cult of personality that the Soviet administration had begun to build around him; he nevertheless accepted that it might have some benefits in unifying the movement.[272] After an hour’s meeting with Lenin, the philosopher Bertrand Russellasserted that Lenin was “very friendly, and apparently simple, entirely without a trace of hauteur… I have never met a personage so destitute of self-importance.”[273] Similarly, Lenin’s friend Gorky described him as “a baldheaded, stocky, sturdy person”, being “too ordinary” and not giving “the impression of being a leader”.[274]

Throughout his adult life, Lenin was in a relationship with Nadezhda Krupskaya, a fellow Marxist whom he married. Lenin and Nadya were both sad that they never had children,[275] and enjoyed entertaining the children of their friends.[276] Despite his radical politics, he took a conservative attitude with regard to sex and marriage.[277]

Lenin was privately critical of Russia, describing it as “one of the most benighted, medieval and shamefully backward of Asian countries”.[249] He was similarly critical of the Russian people, informing Gorky that “An intelligent Russian is almost always a Jew or someone with Jewish blood”, in other instances admitting that he knew little of Russia, having spent one half of his adult life abroad.[278]

According to Pipes and Fischer, Lenin was intolerant of opposition and often dismissed opinions that differed from his own outright.[279] He ignored facts which did not suit his argument,[280] abhorring compromise,[281] and very rarely admitting his own errors.[282] He refused to bend his opinions, until he rejected them completely, at which he would treat the new view as if it was just as unbendable.[283] Robert Service stated that Lenin was a man who could be “moody and volatile”,[284] and who exhibited a “virtual lust for violence” although had no desire to personally involve himself in killing.[285] Similarly, Fischer asserted that he had “neither an emotional commitment to terror nor a revulsion to terror”,[286] while Pipes commented that Lenin had “a strong streak of cruelty” and exhibited no remorse for those killed by the revolutionary cause, asserting that this arose out of indifference rather than sadism.[287]

In 1922, according to Robert Service, Lenin “advocated the final eradication of all remaining threats, real or potential, to his state. For Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks he demanded the staging of show trials followed by exemplary severe punishment.”[219]

Legacy

Statue of Lenin in front of a state building in Nizhyn, Ukraine(demolished by the city council in February 2014).

When Lenin died on 21 January 1924, he was acclaimed by Communists as “the greatest genius of mankind” and “the leader and teacher of the peoples of the whole world”.[288]

Lenin’s reputation inside the Soviet Union and its allies remained high until Communism ended in 1989–91. During the upheavals of the 1960s, Service argues, the reputation of Soviet Communism, and of Lenin himself, started slipping as intellectuals and students on the left turned against dictatorship:

Even the Italian and Spanish communist parties abandoned their ideological fealty to Moscow and formulated doctrines hostile to dictatorship. Especially after the USSR-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the number of admirers of Lenin was getting smaller in states not subject to communist leaderships.[289]

Importance in 20th century

Historian J. Arch Getty has remarked that “Lenin deserves a lot of credit for the notion that the meek can inherit the earth, that there can be a political movement based on social justice and equality”.[10]Time Magazine also named Lenin one of the100 most important people of the 20th century,[12] and one of their top 25 political icons of all time; remarking that “for decades, Marxist–Leninist rebellions shook the world while Lenin’s embalmed corpse lay in repose in the Red Square“.[13] Following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, reverence for Lenin declined among the post-Soviet generations, yet he remains an important historical figure for the Soviet-era generations.[290]

Detail of Man at the Crossroads, fresco at Palacio de Bellas Artes inMexico City showing Lenin

Historians evaluate Lenin

Lee states:

instead of guiding Russian history on to a new highway, Lenin had simply shoved it up a cul-de-sac. This is also the point that seems to have been reached by many recent Russian historians, especially Volkogonov.[291][292]

According to the article in Encyclopædia Britannica written by Professor of Northern Illinois UniversityAlbert Resis:[293]

If the Bolshevik Revolution is—as some people have called it—the most significant political event of the 20th century, then Lenin must for good or ill be considered the century’s most significant political leader. Not only in the scholarly circles of the former Soviet Union, but even among many non-Communist scholars, he has been regarded as both the greatest revolutionary leader and revolutionary statesman in history, as well as the greatest revolutionary thinker since Marx

There is little question that Lenin did influence revolutionaries, including successful ones in China, Vietnam, and Cuba.

As influential as he was in life, Lenin may have been more so in death. Over 100 million have lined up to view his mummified body. His memory has been used to support every change in Soviet policy and every new regime since his death. His theories inspired the successful revolutions of Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, and Ho Chi Minh; as well as countless other revolutionaries in countries full of oppressed and powerless people.
Vladimir Lenin: Voice of Revolution, A&E Biography, 2005[10]

Statues and city names

Commemorative one rouble coin minted in 1970, in honor of Lenin’s centenary.

During the Soviet period, many statues of Lenin were erected across Eastern Europe. Although many of the statues have subsequently been removed, some remain standing, and a few new ones have been erected.[294] During Euromaidanseveral were damaged or destroyed.[295] However, Russian lawmakers from the ruling United Russia party and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) have indicated a proposal to remove all statues of Lenin from Russian cities, with LDPR deputy Aleksandr Kurdyumov citing high maintenance costs and vandalism concerns as some of the main reasons. The proposal is being strongly opposed by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.[296]

Many places and entities were named in honor of Lenin. The city of Saint Petersburg, the site where both February and October revolutions started, was renamed Leningrad in 1924, four days after Lenin’s death. In 1991, after a contested vote between Communists and liberals, the Leningrad government reverted the city’s name to Saint Petersburg while the surrounding Leningrad Oblast remained so named;[297] like-wise the city of Ulyanovsk (so-named after Lenin’s birth name) and the Ulyanovsk Oblast remain so named. Gyumri in Armenia was named Leninakan from 1924 to 1990, Khujand in Tajikistan Leninabad from 1936 to 1991.

In space, the 852 Wladilenaasteroid was named in his honor.

In popular culture

Lenin as represented in Sergei Eisenstein‘s 1927 film October.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Lenin

Fabian Society

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Fabianism)
The Fabian Society
Fabian Society Logo CMYK.JPG

Fabian Society logo
Abbreviation Fabian Society
Formation January 4, 1884; 131 years ago
Legal status Unincorporated membership association
Purpose It aims to promote greater equality of power, wealth and opportunity; the value of collective action and public service; an accountable, tolerant and active democracy; citizenship, liberty and human rights; sustainable development; and multilateral international cooperation
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Location
  • 61 Petty France, London, SW1H 9EU
Membership
7,000
Official language
English
General Secretary
Andrew Harrop
Main organ
Executive Committee
Subsidiaries Young Fabians, Fabian Women’s Network, Scottish Fabians, around 60 local Fabian Societies
Affiliations Labour Party
Website fabians.org.uk

The Fabian Society is a British socialist organisation whose purpose is to advance the principles of socialism viagradualist and reformist means.[1][2] The society laid many of the foundations of the Labour Party and subsequently affected the policies of states emerging from the decolonisation of the British Empire, most notably India andSingapore.

Originally, the Fabian society was committed to the establishment of a socialist economy, alongside a commitment toBritish imperialism as a progressive and modernizing force.[3]

Today, the society functions primarily as a think tank and is one of 15 socialist societies affiliated with the Labour Party. Similar societies exist in Australia (the Australian Fabian Society), in Canada (the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation and the now disbanded League for Social Reconstruction), in Sicily (Sicilian Fabian Society) and in New Zealand.

Organisational history

Establishment

Blue plaque at 17 Osnaburgh St, where the Society was founded in 1884.

Fabian Society was named after “Fabius the Delayer” at the suggestion of Frank Podmore, above.

Tortoise is the symbol of Fabian Society, representing its goal of gradual expansion of socialism.[1]

The Fabian Society was founded on 4 January 1884 in London as an offshoot of a society founded a year earlier calledThe Fellowship of the New Life.[4] Fellowship members included poets Edward Carpenter and John Davidson, sexologist Havelock Ellis and the future Fabian secretary Edward R. Pease. They wanted to transform society by setting an example of clean simplified living for others to follow, but when some members also wanted to become politically involved to aid society’s transformation, it was decided that a separate society, the Fabian Society, also be set up. All members were free to attend both societies. The Fabian Society additionally advocated renewal of Western European Renaissance ideas and their promulgation throughout the rest of the world.

The Fellowship of the New Life was dissolved in 1899,[5] but the Fabian Society grew to become the pre-eminent academic society in the United Kingdom in theEdwardian era, typified by the members of its vanguard Coefficients club. Public meetings of the Society were for many years held at Essex Hall, a popular location just off the Strand in central London.[6]

The Fabian Society, which favoured gradual change rather than revolutionary change, was named – at the suggestion of Frank Podmore – in honour of the Roman general Fabius Maximus (nicknamed “Cunctator”, meaning “the Delayer”). His Fabian strategy advocated tactics of harassment and attrition rather than head-on battles against the Carthaginianarmy under the renowned general Hannibal.

An explanatory note appearing on the title page of the group’s first pamphlet declared:

“For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did most patiently, when warring against Hannibal, though many censured his delays; but when the time comes you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or your waiting will be in vain, and fruitless.”[7]

Organisational growth

Immediately upon its inception, the Fabian Society began attracting many prominent contemporary figures drawn to its socialist cause, including George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Annie Besant, Graham Wallas, Charles Marson, Hubert Bland, Edith Nesbit,Sydney Olivier, Oliver Lodge, Leonard Woolf and Virginia Woolf, Ramsay MacDonald and Emmeline Pankhurst. Even Bertrand Russell briefly became a member, but resigned after he expressed his belief that the Society’s principle of entente (in this case, between countries allying themselves against Germany) could lead to war.

At the core of the Fabian Society were Sidney and Beatrice Webb. Together, they wrote numerous studies[8] of industrial Britain, including alternative co-operative economics that applied to ownership of capital as well as land.

Many Fabians participated in the formation of the Labour Party in 1900 and the group’s constitution, written by Sidney Webb, borrowed heavily from the founding documents of the Fabian Society. At the Labour Party Foundation Conference in 1900, the Fabian Society claimed 861 members and sent one delegate.

The years 1903 to 1908 saw a growth in popular interest in the socialist idea in Great Britain and the Fabian Society grew accordingly, tripling its membership to nearly 2500 by the end of the period, half of whom were located in London.[9] In 1912 a student section was organised called the University Socialist Federation (USF) and by the outbreak of World War I this contingent counted its own membership of more than 500.[9]

Early Fabian views

The first Fabian Society pamphlets[10] advocating tenets of social justice coincided with the zeitgeist of Liberal reforms during the early 1900s. The Fabian proposals however were considerably more progressive than those that were enacted in the Liberal reform legislation. The Fabians lobbied for the introduction of a minimum wage in 1906, for the creation of a universal health care system in 1911 and for the abolition of hereditary peerages in 1917.[11]

Fabian socialists were in favour of reforming Britain’s imperialist foreign policy as a conduit for internationalist reform, and were in favor of a capitalist welfare state modelled on the Bismarckian German model; they criticised Gladstonian liberalism both for its individualism at home and its internationalism abroad. They favoured a national minimum wage in order to stop British industries compensating for their inefficiency by lowering wages instead of investing in capital equipment; slum clearances and a health service in order for “the breeding of even a moderately Imperial race” which would be more productive and better militarily than the “stunted, anaemic, demoralised denizens…of our great cities”; and a national education system because “it is in the classrooms…that the future battles of the Empire for commercial prosperity are already being lost”.[12]

In 1900 the Society produced Fabianism and the Empire, the first statement of its views on foreign affairs, drafted by Bernard Shaw and incorporating the suggestions of 150 Fabian members. It was directed against the liberal individualism of those such as John Morley and Sir William Harcourt.[13] It claimed that the classical liberal political economy was outdated, and that imperialism was the new stage of the international polity. The question was whether Britain would be the centre of a world empire or whether it would lose its colonies and end up as just two islands in the North Atlantic. It expressed support for Britain in the Boer Warbecause small nations, such as the Boers, were anachronisms in the age of empires.[13] In order to hold onto the Empire, the British needed to fully exploit the trade opportunities secured by war; maintain the British armed forces in a high state of readiness to defend the Empire; the creation of a citizen army to replace the professional army; the Factory Acts would be amended to extend to 21 the age for half-time employment, so that the thirty hours gained would be used in “a combination of physical exercises, technical education, education in civil citizenship…and field training in the use of modern weapons”.[14]

The Fabians also favoured the nationalisation of land rent, believing that rents collected by landowners were unearned, an idea which drew heavily from the work of American economist Henry George.

Second generation

In the period between the two World Wars, the “Second Generation” Fabians, including the writers R. H. Tawney, G. D. H. Cole and Harold Laski, continued to be a major influence on social-democratic thought.

But the general idea is that each man should have power according to his knowledge and capacity. […] And the keynote is that of my fairy State: From every man according to his capacity; to every man according to his needs. A democratic Socialism, controlled by majority votes, guided by numbers, can never succeed; a truly aristocratic Socialism, controlled by duty, guided by wisdom, is the next step upwards in civilization.
—Annie Besant, a Fabian Society member and later president of Indian National Congress, [15]

It was at this time that many of the future leaders of the Third World were exposed to Fabian thought, most notably India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, who subsequently framed economic policy for India on Fabian socialism lines. After independence from Britain, Nehru’s Fabian ideas committed India to an economy in which the state owned, operated and controlled means of production, in particular key heavy industrial sectors such as steel, telecommunications, transportation, electricity generation, mining and real estate development. Private activity, property rights and entrepreneurship were discouraged or regulated through permits, nationalization of economic activity and high taxes were encouraged, rationing, control of individual choices and Mahalanobis model considered by Nehru as a means to implement the Fabian Society version of socialism.[16][17][18] In addition to Nehru, several pre-independence leaders in colonial India such as Annie Besant – Nehru’s mentor and later a president of Indian National Congress – were members of the Fabian Society.[19]

Obafemi Awolowo, who later became the premier of Nigeria’s now defunct Western Region, was also a Fabian member in the late 1940s. It was the Fabian ideology that Awolowo used to run the Western Region during his premiership with great success, although he was prevented from using it in a similar fashion on the national level in Nigeria. It is less known that the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad AliJinnah, was an avid member of the Fabian Society in the early 1930s. Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, stated in his memoirs that his initial political philosophy was strongly influenced by the Fabian Society. However, he later altered his views, considering the Fabian ideal of socialism as impractical.[20] In 1993, Lee said:

“They [Fabian Socialists] were going to create a just society for the British workers – the beginning of a welfare state, cheap council housing, free medicine and dental treatment, free spectacles, generous unemployment benefits. Of course, for students from the colonies, like Singapore and Malaya, it was a great attraction as the alternative to communism. We did not see until the 1970s that that was the beginning of big problems contributing to the inevitable decline of the British economy.”

—Lee Kuan Yew interview with Lianhe Zaobao[20]

In the Middle East, the theories of Fabian Society intellectual movement of early-20th-century Britain inspired the Ba’athist vision. The Middle East adaptation of Fabian socialism led the state to control big industry, transport, banks, internal and external trade. The state would direct the course of economic development, with the ultimate aim to provide a guaranteed minimum standard of living for all.[21] Michel Aflaq, widely considered as the founder of the Ba’athist movement, was a Fabian socialist. Aflaq’s ideas, with those of Salah al-Din al-Bitar and Zaki al-Arsuzi, came to fruition in the Arab world in the form of dictatorial regimes in Iraq andSyria.[22] Salāmah Mūsā of Egypt, another prominent champion of Arab Socialism, was a keen adherent of Fabian Society, and a member since 1909.[23]

Among many current and former Fabian academics are the late political scientist Bernard Crick, the late economists Thomas Balogh and Nicholas Kaldor and the sociologist Peter Townsend.

Contemporary Fabianism

Through the course of the 20th century the group has always been influential in Labour Party circles, with members including Ramsay MacDonald, Clement Attlee, Anthony Crosland, Richard Crossman, Ian Mikardo, Tony Benn, Harold Wilson and more recently Shirley Williams, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Gordon Marsden and Ed Balls. The late Ben Pimlott served as its Chairman in the 1990s. (A Pimlott Prize for Political Writing was organised in his memory by the Fabian Society and The Guardian in 2005 and continues annually). The Society is affiliated to the Party as a socialist society. In recent years the Young Fabian group, founded in 1960, has become an important networking and discussion organisation for younger (under 31) Labour Party activists and played a role in the 1994 election of Tony Blair as Labour Leader. Today there is also an active Fabian Women’s Network and Scottish and Welsh Fabian groups.

On 21 April 2009 the Society’s website stated that it had 6,286 members: “Fabian national membership now stands at a 35 year high: it is over 20% higher than when the Labour Party came to office in May 1997. It is now double what it was when Clement Attlee left office in 1951.” The most recent membership figure on its website at July 2014 showed 6624 members in June 2012.

The latest edition of the Dictionary of National Biography (a reference work listing details of famous or significantBritons throughout history) includes 174 Fabians. Four Fabians, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Graham Wallas and George Bernard Shaw founded the London School of Economics with the money left to the Fabian Society by Henry Hutchinson. Supposedly the decision was made at a breakfast party on 4 August 1894. The founders are depicted in the Fabian Window[24] designed by George Bernard Shaw. The window was stolen in 1978 and reappeared at Sotheby’s in 2005. It was restored to display in the Shaw Library at the London School of Economics in 2006 at a ceremony over which Tony Blair presided.[25]

Influence on Labour government

With the advent of a Labour Party government in 1997, the Fabian Society was a forum for New Labour ideas and for critical approaches from across the party. The most significant Fabian contribution to Labour’s policy agenda in government was Ed Balls‘ 1992 pamphlet, advocating Bank of England independence. Balls had been a Financial Times journalist when he wrote this Fabian pamphlet, before going to work for Gordon Brown. BBC Business Editor Robert Peston, in his bookBrown’s Britain, calls this an “essential tract” and concludes that Balls “deserves as much credit – probably more – than anyone else for the creation of the modern Bank of England”;[26] William Keegan offers a similar analysis of Balls’ Fabian pamphlet in his book on Labour’s economic policy,[27] which traces in detail the path leading up to this dramatic policy change after Labour’s first week in office.

The Fabian Society Tax Commission of 2000 was widely credited[28] with influencing the Labour government’s policy and political strategy for its one significant public tax increase: the National Insurance rise to raise £8 billion for National Health Service spending. (The Fabian Commission had in fact called for a directlyhypothecated “NHS tax”[29] to cover the full cost of NHS spending, arguing that linking taxation more directly to spending was essential to make tax rise publicly acceptable. The 2001 National Insurance rise was not formally hypothecated, but the government committed itself to using the additional funds for health spending.) Several other recommendations, including a new top rate of income tax, were to the left of government policy and not accepted, though this comprehensive review of UK taxation was influential in economic policy and political circles, and a new top rate of income tax of 50% was introduced in 2010.[30]

Fabianism outside of the United Kingdom

The major influence on the Labour Party and on the English-speaking socialist movement worldwide, has meant that Fabianism became one of the main inspirations of international social democracy. Direct or indirect influence of the Fabians came on a lot of political movements elsewhere; for example, the liberal socialism of Carlo Rosselli (founder, with his brother Nello Rosselli, of the anti-fascist group’s Giustizia e Libertà), and all its derivatives, such as the Action Party inItaly.[31] The Community Movement, created by the socialist entrepreneur Adriano Olivetti, was then the only Italian party which referred explicitly to Fabianism, among his main inspirations along with federalism, communitarianism and social democracy.[32]

During 2000 the Sicilian Fabian Society was founded in Messina.[33]

Structure

Executive Committee

The Fabian Society is governed by an elected Executive Committee. The committee consists of ten ordinary members elected from a national list, three members nationally elected from a list nominated by local groups, representatives from the Young Fabians, Fabians Women’s Network and Scottish and Welsh Fabians. There is also one staff representative and a directly elected Honorary Treasurer from the membership. Elections are held every other year, with the exception of the Young Fabians and staff representation which are elected annually. The Executive Committee meet quarterly. The Executive Committee elect a Chair and at least one Vice Chair annually to conduct it’s business.

Secretariat

The Fabian Society have a number of employees based in their headquarters in London. The secretariat is led by a General Secretary who is the organisations CEO. The staff are arranged into departments including Research, Editorial, Events and Operations.

Young Fabians

Since 1960 members aged under 31 years of age are also members of the Young Fabians. This group has its own elected Chair, executive committee and sub-groups. The Young Fabians are a voluntary organisation that serves as an incubator for member-led activities such as policy and social events, pamphlets and delegations. Within the group are five special interest communities called Networks that are run by voluntary steering groups and elect their own Chair and officers. The current Networks are Finance, Health, International Affairs, Education and Communications (Industry). It also publishes the quarterly magazine Anticipations.

Fabian Women’s Network

All female members of the Fabian Society are also members of the Fabian Women’s Network. This group has its own elected Chair and Executive Committee which organises conferences and events and works with the wider political movement to secure increased representation for women in politics and public life. It has a flagship mentoring programme that recruits on an annual basis and its President is Seema Malhotra MP, a British Labour Party and Co-operative politician. The Network also publishes the quarterly magazine, Fabiana, runs a range of public speaking events, works closely in partnership with a range of women’s campaigning organisations and regularly hosts a fringe at the Labour Party conference.

Criticism

In the early 1900s Fabian Society members advocated the ideal of a scientifically planned society and supported eugenics by way of sterilization.[34] In an article published in The Guardian on 14 February 2008 (following the apology offered by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the “stolen generations“), Geoffrey Robertson criticised Fabian socialists for providing the intellectual justification for the eugenics policy that led to the stolen generations scandal.[35][36] However, this stands as an independent criticism of Fabianism as no other prominent lawyers, historians or political figures have been found to draw any such conclusion, other than Robertson himself. Such views on socialism, inequality and eugenics amongst 20th century Fabians was not a phenomenon limited to one individual or group of people; these were widely shared throughout a broad political spectrum.[37][38]

Further reading

  • David Howell, British Workers and the Independent Labour Party, 1888–1906. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1983.
  • A.M. McBriar, Fabian Socialism and English Politics, 1884–1918. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1962.
  • Edward R. Pease, A History of the Fabian Society. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1916.
  • Lisanne Radice, Beatrice and Sidney Webb: Fabian Socialists. London: Macmillan, 1984.
  • George Bernard Shaw (ed.), Fabian Essays in Socialism. London: Fabian Society, 1931.
  • George Bernard Shaw, The Fabian Society: Its Early History. [1892] London: Fabian Society, 1906.
  • Willard Wolfe, From Radicalism to Socialism: Men and Ideas in the Formation of Fabian Socialist Doctrines, 1881–1889. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press,

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Story 1: Dallas Cowboys Win 24 -20 Over Detroit, Dallas Citizens Pockets Picked By City five-cent environmental fee for each single-use bag — plastic and paper bags! — It Is A Tax Stupid  — Vote Out of Office All Representatives Who Passed This Tax — Videos

 

jerry-chris-jones-christie-hugWhere Can I Put Them?

An Inconvenient tax: picking people’s pockets

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

Warning, when you check out, be on the lookout for pickpockets.

The latest green movement cause du jour is the banning or taxing of disposable plastic and paper bags. These laws or city ordinances are designed to nudge or coerce customers to bring their own reusable tote bag when they shop for groceries and other merchandise.

A number of United States cities including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boulder, Austin and now unfortunately Dallas have either banned or taxed disposable plastic and/or paper bags or so-called “single-use carryout bags.” According to the Earth Policy Institute, over 20 million people are currently covered by 132 city and county plastic bag bans or fee ordinances in the U.S.

For decades most American and European businesses have provided their customers bags, at no additional charge, to carryout and transport their purchase. In the 1980s businesses began to give their customers a choice of paper or plastic.

On March 26, 2014, the Dallas City Council passed an 8 to 6 City Ordinance No. 29307. It requires business establishments that provide their customers “single-use carryout bags” to register with the city annually each location providing these bags and charge their customers an “environment fee” of 5 cents per bag to promote a “culture of clean” and  “to protect the natural environment, the economy and the health of its residences.”

Give me a break. It is a new tax to raise millions in new tax revenue for the City of Dallas. Who are the elected Dallas-8 council member watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) that ordained this tax on the people and businesses of Dallas? The names of the Dallas-8 are Tennell Atkins, Carolyn R. Davis, Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Dwaine R. Caraway, Sandy Greyson, Philip T. Kingston, and Mayor Mike Rawlings.

The Dallas-8 are led by council member Caraway, who wanted to completely ban plastic and paper single-use carryout bags. Instead they decided to shake down Dallas businesses and their customers with a new highly regressive tax. Caraway refuses to call it a tax and claims the new ordinance which went in effect on January 1 is “a ban with a fee, such as other cities are doing across the United States.”

The eight-page ordinance includes the definition and standards that reusable carryout bags must satisfy: “A reusable carryout bag must meet the minimum reuse testing standard of 100 reuses carrying 16 pound.” Reusable bags may be made of cloth, washable fabric, durable materials, recyclable plastic with a minimum thickness of 4.0 mil or recyclable paper that contains a minimum of 40 percent recycled content.

All of the above reusable bags must have handles with the exception of small bags with a height of less than 14 inches and a width of less than 8 inches.

Business establishments can either provide or sell reusable carryout bags to its customer or to any person.

The city ordinance exempts some bags from the single-use carryout definition including:

  • Plastic bags used for produce, meats, nuts, grains and other bulk items inside grocery or other retail stores,
  • Single-use plastic bags used by restaurants to take away prepared food only where necessary to prevent moisture damage from soups, sauces, gravies or dressings,
  • Recyclable paper bags used by restaurants to take away prepared food,
  • Recyclable paper bags from pharmacies or veterinarians for prescription drugs,
  • Laundry, dry cleaning or garment bags,
  • Biodegradable door-hanger and newspaper bags, and
  • Bags for trash, yard debris and pet waste.

The Dallas 5 cent paper and plastic bag tax or environment fee applies only to single-use carryout bags defined as bags not meeting the requirements of a reusable bag.

Businesses that violate the ordinance can be fined up to a maximum of $500 per day.

Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a bag manufacturing group, said “This legislation applies to a product that is less than 0.5 percent of municipal waste in the United States and typically less than 1 percent of litter in studies conducted across the country;” “Placing a fee on a product with such a minuscule contribution to the waste and litter streams will not help the environment: but it will cost Dallas consumers millions more per year on their grocery bills, while hurting small business and threatening the livelihoods of the 4,500 Texans who work in the plastic bag and recycling industry.”

Stop the shakedown of Dallas businesses and their customers. Repeal the inconvenient tax on paper and plastic disposable bags by voting out of office the Dallas-8 city council members who voted for this tax, Dwaine Caraway. Support your Texas state representatives in passing a new law that would prohibit cities such as Dallas and Austin from banning or taxing paper and plastic carryout bags.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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Carryout Bag Ordinance

Disponible en español      NEW⇒Tiếng Việt

On January 1, 2015, the Carryout Bag Ordinance will start in Dallas. 

Are you ready?

 

Shop
shoppers

RETAILERS

CUSTOMERS

Retailers offering single-use bags to customers must:
  • Register ELECTRONICALLY HERE; works best on Chrome or Firefox (if you need to register using a paper form via USPS, clickhere)
  • Assess a five-cent environmental fee for each single-use bag; the environmental fee is not subject to sales tax
  • Print total number of bags and fee on each receipt
  • Keep records available for inspectors
  • Post signs in controlled parking lots reminding customers to bring their bags
  • Post signs in the store, within six feet of each register, per the ordinance SAMPLE HERE 
  • The full link to the Code Compliance carryout bag website, with forms and additional information, is here

Retailers offering only reusable bags, as defined by the ordinance, have different requirements.

All retailers should look at their operations and determine if their bags are single-use, reusable, or exempted from the single-use definition. Consult the full ordinance for all details pertaining to the ordinance and what is expected for each type of bag including thickness, language on the bag, durability, signage, and other considerations.

Customers, you are encouraged to bring your bagand keep your change.Single-use carryout bags have a five-cent per bag environmental fee.  A single-use bag can be paper or plastic.Reusable bags do not have the environmental fee, though stores may charge you to offset costs.  Reusable bags stores offer can be made from cloth or other washable woven materials, recyclable paper, or recyclable plastic so long as they meet certain requirements.  However, any bag you bring with you to use is considered reusable since you are reusing it.There are some bags that are exempted from the single-use bag definition:

  • Laundry, dry cleaning or garment bags;
  • Biodegradable door-hanger and newspaper bags;
  • Bags for trash, yard debris or pet waste;
  • Plastic bags used for produce, meats, nuts, grains and other bulk items inside grocery or other retail stores;
  • Recyclable paper bags from pharmacies or veterinarians for prescription drugs; and,
  • Recyclable paper bags used by restaurants to take away prepared food.
  • Single-use plastic bags used by restaurants to take away prepared food only where necessary to prevent moisture damage from soups, sauces, gravies or dressings.

Remember to recycle the bags you can recycle appropriately.

Why

Many wonder why the City passed this ordinance.  The Dallas City Council passed the ordinance to help improve the environment and keep our city clean.  The City is currently spending nearly $4 million dollars to remove litter from our community to keep it beautiful and thriving.

The Carryout Bag ordinance is intended to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags to carry goods from stores, restaurants, and other locations to reduce the number of bags that can end up loose in the environment as litter. 

To help you understand, we have created this list of frequently asked question.

whatThe carryout bag ordinance outlines the City’s “desire to protect the natural environment, the economy and the health of its residents,” and the “negative impact on the environment caused by improper disposal of single-use carryout bags.” The Dallas City Council approved the ordinance on March 26, 2014.

whenThe ordinance takes effect on January 1, 2015.

Retailers and customers should be ready and know all the details.  This website and the City’s Code Compliance Services website have details to help retailers prepare.  The links to the Code website on DallasCityHall.com are below.

howSome are still unclear how the ordinance may impact them.

Businesses will have to register each location with the City in order to offer single-use bags.  No registration is necessary if a business is only offering reusable bags or bags that are exempted from the single-use bag definition in the ordinance.  Businesses must be registered before distributing single-use carryout bags starting January 1, 2015. Businesses are required to collect a five-cent environmental fee for every single-use bag used by a customer.

Customers will be charged a five-cent environmental fee for each single-use bag, paper or plastic, they receive from retailers.  Again, reusable bags and bags exempted from the definition of single-use bags do not carry the environmental fee.  You can avoid the environmental fee by bringing your own bags with you.  The five cent fee assessed for the single-use bag is not subject to sales tax.

Will I still be able to get plastic carryout bags?
Yes, provided your retailer chooses to offer them and collect the environmental fee.

Can I bring my own reusable bags to carry out items I purchased?
Yes. Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to carry out their items instead of paying the five-cent environmental fee per single-use plastic or paper bag.

If I reuse a single-use carryout bag, will I have to pay the fee again?
Whatever bag you bring — tote bag, golf bag, diaper bag, satchel, purse, or produce bag — if you bring it with you to reuse, you do not have to pay the environmental fee.

Where does the money go?
A portion of the fees will be used to pay for enforcement of the ordinance and for public education efforts.  Stores keep 10 percent of the five-cent fee to help offset administrative costs.

Does this ordinance apply to all businesses?
All retailers that offer single-use carryout bags in Dallas are subject to this ordinance.

What about non-profits or charities?
If the non-profit or charity offers food, groceries, clothing, or other household items free of charge to clients, they may still use single-use carryout bags for the specific function of distributing those items.  However, the ordinance will apply to any bags used at the point of sale for any goods sold through the non-profit or charity.
Additionally, any non-profit or charity that collects goods for donation from the public or which leaves informational material for the public must be sure any door-hanger bags left for collecting those goods or providing that informational material are biodegradable.

Does the ordinance include all bags?
The ordinance applies to single-use paper or plastic carryout bags used by businesses as defined in the ordinance language.

What if businesses don’t follow the ordinance?
Businesses that violate the ordinance could face fines of up to $500 per day.

How will the ordinance be enforced?
City Code Compliance inspectors will respond to complaints and provide proactive enforcement.

How can the City know if businesses aren’t complying with the law? Will they be doing more inspections?
There will be proactive enforcement and periodic audits.  Additionally, the City will respond to complaints from residents.

Will the ban on single-use bags at city facilities apply to retailers at American Airlines Center, city museums, the Omni Dallas Hotel, and Fair Park?
Yes.  The City Attorney’s Office will work with Code Enforcement to determine which facilities are affected and how.

Whom should I contact if I have additional questions?
Call 3-1-1, the Office of Environmental Quality, Code Compliance or email us atgreendallas@dallascityhall.com.

NEW⇒ Where can I find the forms?
Forms and more information are available on the Code Compliance website dedicated to the Carryout Bag Ordinance here.

http://greendallas.net/carryout-bag-ordinance/

 

Dallas City Council OK’s fee-based ordinance that says retailers must charge five cents for carryout bags

For months Dwaine Caraway has insisted he had the votes to pass at least a partial ban on the single-use carryout bag. He was right: By a vote of 8-6 the Dallas City Council passed the so-called “environmental fee ordinance,” which bans single-use carryout bags at all city facilities and events while still allowing retailers to use plastic and paper bags.

But beginning January 1 retailers will have to charge customers who want them “an environmental fee” of five cents per bag, and they will get to keep 10 percent of that money. The ordinance also says retailers who want to keep handing out plastic and paper bags will have to register with the city and keep track of bags sold.

The city says the money raised from the bag fees will help go toward funding enforcement and education efforts that assistant city manager Jill Jordan told the council could cost around $250,000 and necessitate the hiring of up to 12 additional staff members.

Wednesday’s vote came a year after council member Dwaine Caraway asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance that completely banned the bag. The council member says the ordinance passed today was a compromise born out of “a fair process” that included environmentalists, bag manufactures and retailers. Several of his colleagues wanted to send the proposed ordinances back to committee for further debate. But Caraway wanted a vote now.

“You get to a point where it’s time to make decisions, decisions that will have a great impact on the city of Dallas and our environmental status … and the beautification of our city,” he said. The process has “been pretty tough. it’s been back and forth. We listened and listened fairly.”

But six of his colleagues disagreed: Sheffie Kadane said the fee-based ban will result in a lawsuit from retailers and manufacturers. Rick Callahan called it a “government intrusion.” Jennifer Staubach Gates said it wouldn’t do any good, because in five years the reusable bags supported by the environmentalists will end up in landfills too. And Jerry Allen said the three options being considered by council, including a full-out ban, represented “a lack of clear conviction,” which he found disappointing.

And then there was Lee Kleinman, who on Friday indicated he supported the fee-based ordinance. Five days later he’d changed his mind and said he no longer cared what happened in his colleagues’ districts.

“I would personally probably stay more focused on my own district, which does not have the same trash problems as others,” he said, to the amazement of some of his southern sector colleagues. “Why should I care if someone is shopping like at Southwest Center Mall and they want a plastic bag? If people in that community are satisfied with the conditions around that mall, why should I utilize my position in North Dallas to improve those conditions? I should just focus my energies on North Dallas redevelopment projects and not help another improve quality of life in other areas of the city.”

That entire speech is above, thanks to my colleague Scott Goldstein.

Vonciel Jones Hill, who has said in the past she opposes any ban or bag tax, was no present for today’s vote. Monica Alonzo also voted against it, but said nothing.

In a statement released following the vote, the American Progressive Bag Alliance said it’s “a move that will fail to accomplish any environmental goals while jeopardizing 4,500 Texas jobs and hurting consumers.”

Its executive director, Lee Califf, said in a statement that “the vote to approve a 5-cent plastic and paper grocery bag fee in Dallas is another example of environmental myths and junk science driving poor policy in the plastic bag debate.”

But it’s not clear if the state will allow Dallas’ new bag “ban” — or bag tax, more appropriately.

Attorney General Greg Abbott is going to weigh in on the legality of bag bans, following a request by state Rep. Dan Flynn of Canton on behalf of the Texas Retailers Association. Jerry Allen asked Dallas City Attorney Warren Ernst if the state allows bag bans.

“We are ready to defend that position,” Ernst said. “If it’s the will of the council to pass the ordinance, we’ll defend that as a legal action by the city.”

Allen was not convinced, insisting “there’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty.” Ernst appeared to agree.
Those council members opposed to the ordinance said Dallas needs to do a better job of enforcing its litter laws. Jordan told the council that the city spends $4 million annually on trash pick-up, “and we still have litter.”

In the end, said council member Scott Griggs, “this is just one step. We tackle the bags then we can move on to Styrofoam and other issues that cause trash. This is a large elephant we’ll have to take on as a city and a council.”

Kroger’s Gary Huddleston, also of the Texas Retailers Association, shared a hug with Dwaine Caraway following today’s council vote.

Following the vote, Gary Huddleston, head of the Texas Retailers Association, said he wasn’t sure whether his organization would sue the city. He noted that they are awaiting the attorney general’s ruling on the legality of a fee.

“It will affect the retailers in the city of Dallas and it will affect our customers,” Huddleston said. “They’ll have to pay for their paper and plastic bags or they bring in their reusable bags.”

“We personally believe the solution to litter in the city of Dallas is a strong recycling program and also punishing the people that litter and not punishing the retailer,” Huddleston said.

The fee means that businesses will have to institute additional programming and training in order to enforce ordinance and track the fees. Customers will “have to pay a nickel a bag, whereas maybe they use that nickel to buy more product in my store.”

But Huddleston’s concerns didn’t stop him from hugging Caraway outside chambers. The two men smiled and embraced in front of television cameras.

The council member said he was pleased with the result of more than a year of work. He refused to call the fee a “tax.”

“It’s a ban with a fee, such as other cities are doing across the United States,” Caraway said.

He said it’s important for residents to know the ban does not cover a variety of bags, such as those in the produce section of grocery stores or at restaurants

“Folks need to understand that these are single-use carryout bags,” Caraway said. “These are simply those thin, flimsy bags that take flight and that are undesirable and bad for the environment.”

Staff writer Scott Goldstein contributed to this report.

http://cityhallblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/dallas-city-council-approves-partial-fee-based-ban-on-single-use-carryout-bags.html/

Dallas Will Charge Fees for Plastic Bag Use
By Josh Ault and Ken Kalthoff

The City of Dallas has implemented new rules for plastic grocery bags, imposing a 5 cent fee on single-use plastic or paper grocery bags. The rules go into effect in January. (Published Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014)
Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 • Updated at 5:56 AM CST
The Dallas City Council has passed a proposal ordering retailers to charge a fee for one-time use plastic bags while partially banning them from city-owned facilities.
In a 8-6 vote, the council passed the ordinance requiring retailers to charge customers a $0.05 fee if they request single-use plastic or paper bags.
Dallas Plastic Bag Ban Vote Wednesday[DFW] Dallas Plastic Bag Ban Vote Wednesday
The Dallas City Council is expected to vote on plastic bag ban issue on Wednesday. (Published Monday, Mar 24, 2014)
Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway accepted the compromise of a bag fee after spending a year fighting for a ban on single-use bags.
“This is an opportunity for us to clean our city, to clean our environment and to move forward, and to be like the other cities across the country and around the world,” Caraway said.
Zac Trahan with Texas Campaign for The Environment said Austin and eight smaller Texas cities have taken stronger action by banning single-use bags, but he still supported the Dallas regulations.
“It’s still a step in the right direction because it will still result in a huge reduction in the number of bags that will be distributed,” he said.
The ordinance also requires those retailers to register with the city and track the number of single-use bags sold.
The retailer would keep 10 percent of the environmental fee with the remainder going to the city to fund enforcement and education efforts.
Lee Califf, the executive director of the bag manufacturers’ group American Progressive Bag Alliance, released the following statement after the ordinance was passed.
“The vote to approve a 5-cent plastic and paper grocery bag fee in Dallas is another example of environmental myths and junk science driving poor policy in the plastic bag debate. This legislation applies to a product that is less than 0.5% of municipal waste in the United States and typically less than 1% of litter in studies conducted across the country. The City Council rushed through a flawed bill to appease its misguided sponsor, despite the fact that 70% of Dallas residents opposed this legislation in a recent poll.

“Placing a fee on a product with such a minuscule contribution to the waste and litter streams will not help the environment; but it will cost Dallas consumers millions more per year on their grocery bills, while hurting small businesses and threatening the livelihoods of the 4,500 Texans who work in the plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry. Councilman Caraway may view this vote as a victory for his political career, but there are no winners with today’s outcome.”
Several Council Members opposed any new restrictions.
Rick Callahan said grocery bags are only a small part of the Dallas litter problem and better recycling education is needed.
“Banning something or adding a fee, putting more regulation on business is not the answer,” Callahan said.
The ordinance does ban single-use plastic or paper bags at city-owned facilities and events.
It still allows distributing multi-use, or stronger, paper or plastic bags for free so stores can get around charging the fee by offering better bags.
The ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Dallas-Council-to-Consider-Plastic-Bag-Ban-252427601.html

 

Dallas’ new plastic bag fee: for and against

By Steve Blow

After more than a year of considering a ban on disposable shopping bags, the Dallas City Council voted instead last week to impose a 5-cent “environmental fee” on each bag.

In previous columns, Steve Blow had opposed a ban, while Jacquielynn Floyd had supported it. Today, they debate the council’s new approach.

Steve: Leave it to the Dallas City Council to take a bad idea and find a way to make it worse. I thought a ban on shopping bags was a bad idea, but slapping a new tax on Dallas shoppers is even more pointless.

This isn’t just a new tax, it’s a new mini-bureaucracy at City Hall. There’s talk of hiring 12 new people to run the program. And I’m sure someone is already writing a job description for a Deputy Junior Assistant City Manager for Retail Packaging Assessment and Oversight.

Good grief. I had little faith that a ban would accomplish much. I’m even more dubious about a bag tax — except as a tool of government growth.

Jacquielynn: Dude, it’s a nickel. Nobody’s getting taxed into bankruptcy here.

I hope, in fact, that this modest 5 cents is enough to assign at least minimal value to these awful bags. The reason they end up on fences, in fields and as tree garbage is that they’re so free and plentiful.

Almost everybody collects them every day — yet they have virtually no value. It’s human nature to take something for free, then toss it or lose track if you don’t need it.

Like it or not, this is the direction cities are headed. Los Angeles has had a ban in effect for more than a year. New York and Chicago are talking about either banning or limiting plastic bags.

I don’t think this is a case of forcing people to bow to the authoritarian rule of government overlords — we’re asking for a very minor change in their habits. It makes environmental sense, like other conservation and recycling measures that have become routine.

Steve: They don’t end up as litter because they’re free and plentiful. They end up as litter because a few dopes among us litter. A nickel is not going to transform those dopes into responsible citizens. Anyone careless with trash is not going to suddenly become careful with 5-cent trash.

On a fundamental level, this issue chaps my inner libertarian. I don’t think “government regulation” is automatically a dirty word. But I firmly believe the need must be obvious and compelling before we add more regulation.

Jack, you may be fixated on plastic bags as you drive around, but I promise they make up a small percentage of the litter that’s out there. I see more cups than anything. Will we be required to carry around reusable cups next? Or pay a cups tax?

Jacquielynn: Steve, I agree that clueless dolts dump all kinds of garbage, from burger wrappers to moldy old sofas.

Plastic bags are a particular problem, though, for the very qualities that make them such a successful consumer product: They’re cheap, durable, lightweight and water-resistant. They’re mobile, easily blown into trees, creeks, fences and even for miles out into rural areas. A farmer who lives outside Dallas told me this week he hates plastic bags because when they land on his property, baby calves can choke on them.

Most of us don’t have calf problems, but the bags’ weightlessness makes them vulnerable to any breeze. Even if they’re responsibly discarded, they’ll blow out of open trash cans, trucks, you name it.

They’re not just a blight — they’re a highly contagious blight.

Steve: Oh, c’mon. How am I supposed to rebut choking baby calves?

I will point out that Washington, D.C., has a real paradox on its hands. It implemented a 5-cent fee on disposable bags in 2010. And in a survey last year, residents reported using 60 percent fewer bags.

But get this: Tax revenue from the bags has been going up, not down as was expected. The city had originally projected to collect $1.05 million in fiscal 2013. Instead, bag fees topped $2 million.

The dollars don’t lie. More bags are being used after four years. Sure, some people will switch to reusable bags. But this sure isn’t going to make plastic bags disappear. Is a regressive new tax really worth it?

Jacquielynn: I’d be happy to sidestep the entire “tax” issue by banning bags outright. If you want groceries, make sure you have a way to get them home.

But if cities aren’t ready to take that step, and they actually see a windfall out of bag taxes, maybe that should be dedicated to cleanup efforts.

Ideally, though, stores wouldn’t have the things at all. They can make boxes available (a la Costco). They can sell heavier plastic multiple-use bags for 25 or 50 cents. Shoppers buying just one or two items could learn to use the flexible appendages at the ends of their arms to carry stuff away.

The mail I’ve received from angry readers makes it plain that a lot of people loathe this plan, whether you call it a ban or a tax.

But I just don’t think we’re asking for a dramatic change in the way we live our lives. If we don’t stop assuming that everything we send to the landfill magically disappears, the landfill is going to start coming to us. Do you really want to live in a city that has garbage in the trees?

Steve: No, it’s not a drastic change. Just a needless one. And I’m looking out my office window at six or seven trees with nary a bag in sight. Except for a few spots, the litter problem has been overblown.

I just wish we had tried a major public-awareness campaign before imposing more taxes and more regulation. 1. Recycle bags where you get them. 2. Try reusable bags. 3. Don’t litter, you dope.

Jacquielynn: On those points, we’re in wholehearted agreement.

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/columnists/steve-blow/20140329-dallas-new-plastic-bag-fee-for-and-against.ece

 

Attorney General asked to weigh in on bag bans

Don’t bag it. Butt out. That’s the message Wednesday to Attorney General Greg Abbott from supporters of efforts to ban the use of plastic bags in Texas. The Attorney General has been asked to determine whether or not city ordinances like the one in Austin go too far and violate state law. While Abbott was told to back off, the state lawmaker who asked the Attorney General to get involved explained why he made the request.

It’s no longer legal in Austin for a retailer to provide customers with plastic bags. Wednesday, those who want to keep the bag ban on the books gathered at the state capitol to send a message.

“We call on the Attorney General today to keep his nose out of local government’s business of protecting the health of their residents and local communities, and leave well enough alone,” said Robin Schneider who is the Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment.

The group is filing a legal brief to convince the Attorney General that cities in Texas have the Home-Rule authority to out-law plastic bags. Austin is among nearly a dozen towns that have passed bag ban ordinances. Wednesday is the deadline to weigh in before the Attorney General issues an opinion. The question is whether or not a municipal ban violates the state health and safety code.

The state lawmaker who requested the legal opinion, state Rep. Dan Flynn (R) Vann said his concern is not necessarily about the use of plastic bags but about the perceived abuse of power.

“The last this particular law was looked at was about 20 years ago,” said Rep. Flynn.

The Republican from Van heads up a House Committee created to make government more transparent. According to Flynn, he made the request for a legal opinion after getting several calls asking for clarification.

“It’s not about Austin, it’s all about state authority and the power grab by some cities over state law, that’s just about the easiest way to say it.”

When a ban on plastic bags was approved in Austin, the lack of a similar, free, option spurred much of the opposition. Shoppers are required to buy their own reusable cloth of thick plastic bags. Some stores in Austin do provide paper bags but typically charge for them,” said Flynn.

“They’re not charging in Fort Stockton,” said Darren Hodges, Mayor Pro Tem of that west Texas town.

The Fort Stockton city council worked with local retailers before being one of the first to pass a ban. According to Hodges, free biodegradable bags are offered to Fort Stockton shoppers. That kind of option, he agreed, could help reduce back lash in communities considering similar action.

“It’s best to get with your big bag people and work with them on something that they can live with, at least get everyone involved in the process and see if you can move forward,” said Hodges.

An A.G. ruling against bag bans will not strike down any ordinance. It could provide a legal foot-hold for any group that takes a city to court.

The Dallas city council, earlier Wednesday, considered its own bag ban. Instead of out-lawing them, in a close vote, the Dallas council passed an environmental fee ordinance, which is essentially a new tax.

Starting next year shoppers in Dallas will be charged 5-cents for every plastic and paper bag that they use.

In reaction to the Dallas council vote, the American Progressive Bag Alliance issued the following statement:

“The vote to approve a 5-cent plastic and paper grocery bag fee in Dallas is another example of environmental myths and junk science driving poor policy in the plastic bag debate. This legislation applies to a product that is less than 0.5% of municipal waste in the United States and typically less than 1% of litter in studies conducted across the country. The City Council rushed through a flawed bill to appease its misguided sponsor, despite the fact that 70% of Dallas residents opposed this legislation in a recent poll.”

http://www.myfoxaustin.com/story/25082745/attorney-general-asked-to-weigh-in-on-bag-bans

 

Plan B Updates
APRIL 22, 2014
Plastic Bag Bans Spreading in the United States
Janet Larsen and Savina Venkova

Los Angeles rang in the 2014 New Year with a ban on the distribution of plastic bags at the checkout counter of big retailers, making it the largest of the 132 cities and counties around the United States with anti-plastic bag legislation. And a movement that gained momentum in California is going national. More than 20 million Americans live in communities with plastic bag bans or fees. Currently 100 billion plastic bags pass through the hands of U.S. consumers every year—almost one bag per person each day. Laid end-to-end, they could circle the equator 1,330 times. But this number will soon fall as more communities, including large cities like New York and Chicago, look for ways to reduce the plastic litter that blights landscapes and clogs up sewers and streams.

While now ubiquitous, the plastic bag has a relatively short history. Invented in Sweden in 1962, the single-use plastic shopping bag was first popularized by Mobil Oil in the 1970s in an attempt to increase its market for polyethylene, a fossil-fuel-derived compound. Many American customers disliked the plastic bag when it was introduced in 1976, disgusted by the checkout clerks having to lick their fingers when pulling the bags from the rack and infuriated when a bag full of groceries would break or spill over. But retailers continued to push for plastic because it was cheaper and took up less space than paper, and now a generation of people can hardly conceive of shopping without being offered a plastic bag at the checkout counter.

The popularity of plastic grocery bags stems from their light weight and their perceived low cost, but it is these very qualities that make them unpleasant, difficult, and expensive to manage. Over one third of all plastic production is for packaging, designed for short-term use. Plastic bags are made from natural gas or petroleum that formed over millions of years, yet they are often used for mere minutes before being discarded to make their way to a dump or incinerator—if they don’t blow away and end up as litter first. The amount of energy required to make 12 plastic bags could drive a car for a mile.

In landfills and waterways, plastic is persistent, lasting for hundreds of years, breaking into smaller pieces and leaching out chemical components as it ages, but never fully disappearing. Animals that confuse plastic bags with food can end up entangled, injured, or dead. Recent studies have shown that plastic from discarded bags actually soaks up additional pollutants like pesticides and industrial waste that are in the ocean and delivers them in large doses to sea life. The harmful substances then can move up the food chain to the food people eat. Plastics and the various additives that they contain have been tied to a number of human health concerns, including disruption of the endocrine and reproductive systems, infertility, and a possible link to some cancers.

Graph on Population Under Plastic Bag Bans and Charges in the United States, 2007-2014

California—with its long coastline and abundant beaches where plastic trash is all too common—has been the epicenter of the U.S. movement against plastic bags. San Francisco was the first American city to regulate their use, starting with a ban on non-compostable plastic bags from large supermarkets and chain pharmacies in 2007. As part of its overall strategy to reach “zero waste” by 2020 (the city now diverts 80 percent of its trash to recyclers or composters instead of landfills), it extended the plastic bag ban to other stores and restaurants in 2012 and 2013. Recipients of recycled paper or compostable bags are charged at least 10ȼ, but—as is common in cities with plastic bag bans—bags for produce or other bulk items are still allowed at no cost. San Francisco also is one of a number of Californian cities banning the use of polystyrene (commonly referred to as Styrofoam) food containers, and it has gone a step further against disposable plastic packaging by banning sales of water in plastic bottles in city property.

All told, plastic bag bans cover one-third of California’s population. Plastic bag purchases by retailers have reportedly fallen from 107 million pounds in 2008 to 62 million pounds in 2012, and bag producers and plastics manufacturers have taken note. Most of the ordinances have faced lawsuits from plastics industry groups like the American Chemistry Council (ACC). Even though the laws have largely held up in the courts, the threat of legal action has deterred additional communities from taking action and delayed the process for others.

Ironically, were it not for the intervention of the plastics industry in the first place, California would likely have far fewer outright plastic bag bans. Instead, more communities might have opted for charging a fee per bag, but this option was prohibited as part of industry-supported state-wide legislation in 2006 requiring Californian grocery stores to institute plastic bag recycling programs. Since a first attempt in 2010, California has come close to introducing a statewide ban on plastic bags, but well-funded industry lobbyists have gotten in the way. A new bill will likely go up for a vote in 2014 with the support of the California Grocers Association as well as state senators who had opposed an earlier iteration.

Seattle’s story is similar. In 2008 the city council passed legislation requiring groceries, convenience stores, and pharmacies to charge 20ȼ for each one-time-use bag handed out at the cash register. A $1.4 million campaign headed by the ACC stopped the measure via a ballot initiative before it went into effect, and voters rejected the ordinance in August 2009. But the city did not give up. In 2012 it banned plastic bags and added a 5ȼ fee for paper bags. Attempts to gather signatures to repeal this have been unsuccessful. Eleven other Washington jurisdictions have also banned plastic bags, including the state capital, Olympia. (See database of U.S. plastic bag initiatives and a timeline history.)

U.S. Plastic Bag Laws Map

(Click for a live map)

A number of state governments have entertained proposals for anti-plastic bag legislation, but not one has successfully applied a statewide charge or banned the bags. Hawaii has a virtual state prohibition, as its four populated counties have gotten rid of plastic bags at grocery checkouts, with the last one beginning enforcement in July 2015. Florida, another state renowned for its beaches, legally preempts cities from enacting anti-bag legislation. The latest attempt to remove this barrier was scrapped in April 2014, although state lawmakers say they will revisit the proposal later in the year.

Opposition to plastic bags has emerged in Texas, despite the state accounting for 44 percent of the U.S. plastics market and serving as the home to several important bag manufacturers, including Superbag, one of America’s largest. Eight cities and towns in the state have active plastic bag bans, and others, like San Antonio, have considered jumping on the bandwagon. Austin banned plastic bags in 2013, hoping to reduce the more than $2,300 it was spending each day to deal with plastic bag trash and litter. The smaller cities of Fort Stockton and Kermit banned plastic bags in 2011 and 2013, respectively, after ranchers complained that cattle had died from ingesting them. Plastic bags have also been known to contaminate cotton fields, getting caught up in balers and harming the quality of the final product. Plastic pollution in the Trinity River Basin, which provides water to over half of all Texans, was a compelling reason for Dallas to pass a 5ȼ fee on plastic bags that will go into effect in 2015.

Washington, D.C., was the first U.S. city to require food and alcohol retailers to charge customers 5ȼ for each plastic or paper bag. Part of the revenue from this goes to the stores to help them with the costs of implementation, and part is designated for cleanup of the Anacostia River. Most D.C. shoppers now routinely bring their own reusable bags on outings; one survey found that 80 percent of consumers were using fewer bags and that over 90 percent of businesses viewed the law positively or neutrally.

Montgomery County in Maryland followed Washington’s example and passed a 5ȼ charge for bags in 2011. A recent study that compared shoppers in this county with those in neighboring Prince George’s County, where anti-bag legislation has not gone through, found that reusable bags were seven times more popular in Montgomery County stores. When bags became a product rather than a freebie, shoppers thought about whether the product was worth the extra nickel and quickly got into the habit of bringing their own bags.

One strategy of the plastics industry—concerned about declining demand for its products—is an attempt to change public perception of plastic bags by promoting recycling. Recycling, however, is also not a good long-term solution. The vast majority of plastic bags—97 percent or more in some locales—never make it that far. Even when users have good intentions, bags blow out of outdoor collection bins at grocery stores or off of recycling trucks. The bags that reach recycling facilities are the bane of the programs: when mixed in with other recyclables they jam and damage sorting machines, which are very costly to repair. In San Jose, California, where fewer than 4 percent of plastic bags are recycled, repairs to bag-jammed equipment cost the city about $1 million a year before the plastic bag ban went into effect in 2012.

Proposed plastic bag restrictions have been shelved in a number of jurisdictions, including New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago, in favor of bag recycling programs. New York City may, however, move ahead with a bill proposed in March 2014 to place a city-wide 10ȼ fee on single-use bags. Chicago is weighing a plastic bag ban.

In their less than 60 years of existence, plastic bags have had far-reaching effects. Enforcing legislation to limit their use challenges the throwaway consumerism that has become pervasive in a world of artificially cheap energy. As U.S. natural gas production has surged and prices have fallen, the plastics industry is looking to ramp up domestic production. Yet using this fossil fuel endowment to make something so short-lived, which can blow away at the slightest breeze and pollutes indefinitely, is illogical—particularly when there is a ready alternative: the reusable bag.

 

A Short History of the Plastic Bag: Selected Dates of Note in the United States and Internationally
1933 Polyethylene is discovered by scientists at Imperial Chemical Industries, a British company.
1950 Total global plastics production stands at less than 2 million metric tons.
1965 Sten Thulin’s 1962 invention of the T-shirt bag, another name for the common single-use plastic shopping bag, is patented by Swedish company Celloplast.
1976 Mobil Oil introduces the plastic bag to the United States. To recognize the U.S. Bicentennial, the bag’s designs are in red, white, and blue.
1982 Safeway and Kroger, two of the biggest U.S. grocery chains, start to switch from paper to plastic bags.
1986 Plastic bags already account for over 80 percent of the market in much of Europe, with paper holding on to the remainder. In the United States, the percentages are reversed.
June 1986 The half-million-member-strong General Federation of Women’s Clubs starts a U.S.-wide letter writing campaign to grocers raising concerns about the negative environmental effects of plastic bags.
Late 1980s Plastic bag usage estimated to catch up to paper in U.S. groceries.
1989 Maine passes a law requiring retailers to only hand out plastic bags if specifically requested; this is replaced in 1991 by a statewide recycling initiative.
1990 The small Massachusetts island of Nantucket bans retail plastic bags.
1994 Denmark begins taxing retailers for plastic bags.
1996 Four of every five grocery bags used in the United States are made of plastic.
1997 Captain Charles Moore discovers the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” in the remote North Pacific, where plastic is estimated to outweigh zooplankton six to one, drawing global attention to the accumulation of plastics in the ocean.
2000 Mumbai, India, bans plastic bags, with limited enforcement.
2002 Global plastics production tops 200 million metric tons.
March 2002 Ireland becomes the first country to tax consumers’ use of plastic bags directly.
March 2002 Bangladesh becomes the first country to ban plastic bags. Bags had been blamed for exacerbating flooding.
2006 Italy begins efforts to pass a national ban on plastic bags; due to industry complaints and legal issues, these efforts are ongoing.
April 2007 San Francisco becomes the first U.S. city to ban plastic grocery bags, later expanding to all retailers and restaurants.
2007-2008 The ACC spends $5.7 million on lobbying in California, much of it to oppose regulations on plastic bags.
June 2008 China’s plastic bag ban takes effect before Beijing hosts the Olympic Games.
September 2008 Rwanda passes a national ban on plastic bags.
2009 Plastics overtake paper and paperboard to become the number one discarded material in the U.S. waste stream.
July 2009 Hong Kong’s levy on plastic bags takes effect in chains, large groceries, and other more sizable stores; it is later expanded to all retailers.
August 2009 Seattle’s attempt to impose a 20ȼ fee on both paper and plastic bags is defeated before it can take effect by a referendum financed largely by the American Chemistry Council (ACC).
December 2009 Madison, Wisconsin, mandates that households recycle plastic bags rather than disposing of them with their trash.
January 2010 Washington, D.C., begins requiring all stores that sell food or alcohol to charge 5ȼ for plastic and paper checkout bags.
2010 Major bag producer Hilex Poly spends over $1 million in opposition to a proposed statewide plastic bag ban in California.
2010 Plastic bags appear in the Guinness World Records as the world’s “most ubiquitous consumer item.”
October 2011 In Oregon, Portland’s ban on plastic bags at major groceries and certain big-box stores begins.
May 2012 Honolulu County approves a plastic bag ban (to go into effect in July 2015), completing a de facto state-wide ban in Hawaii.
July 2012 Seattle’s plastic bag ban takes effect nearly three years after the first tax attempt failed.
March 2013 A bag ban takes effect in Austin, TX.
September-October 2013 During the Ocean Conservancy’s 2013 Coastal Cleanup event, more than 1 million plastic bags were picked up from coasts and waterways around the world.
January 2014 Los Angeles becomes the largest U.S. city to ban plastic bags.
April 2014 Members of the European Parliament back new rules requiring member countries to cut plastic bag use 50 percent by 2017 and 80 percent by 2019.
April 2014 Over 20 million people are covered under 132 city and county plastic bag bans or fee ordinances in the United States.
Source: Compiled by Earth Policy Institute, www.earth-policy.org, April 2014.

 

Selected Plastic Bag Regulations in the United States
Boulder, CO Boulder grocery stores charge 10ȼ for plastic and paper bags. The city’s reasons for applying the fee to both were that plastic bags are difficult to recycle and paper bag production is also energy- and water-intensive. Stores keep 4ȼ and the rest of the money goes to the city to cover administrative costs, to provide residents with free reusable bags, and to otherwise minimize the impacts of bag waste. Just six months after the fee began in 2013, the city announced that bag use had dropped by 68 percent.
Chicago, IL The Chicago City Council has visited the idea of limiting plastic bags giveaways several times over the last six years. In 2008 a proposed bag ban was rejected in favor of a bag recycling program. A bill banning plastic bags at most retailers is under consideration.
Dallas, TX Plastic bags and bottles make up about 40 percent of all the trash in the Trinity River that provides water to over half of all Texans, including those living in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, according to estimates by Peter Payton, Executive Director of Groundwork Dallas, a group that does monthly cleanups in the watershed. In March 2014, a 5ȼ fee on plastic and paper bags at all grocery and retail stores, along with a ban on plastic bags at all city events, facilities, and properties, was approved by the City Council. It will go into effect in January 2015. Nine tenths of the revenue generated from bag sales will go to the city.
Hawaii In April 2012, Honolulu County joined the counties of Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii in banning non-biodegradable plastic bags. This amounts to a de facto statewide bag ban—a first for the United States. The ordinances state that plastic bag use must be regulated “to preserve health, safety, welfare, and scenic and natural beauty.” Retailers have until mid-2015 to comply.
Los Angeles County (Unincorporated), CA In July 2011, a ban on plastic bags in large stores took effect in the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, home to 1.1 million people. In January 2012, that ban expanded to include small stores, like pharmacies and convenience marts. Nearly 800 retail stores are affected. This was the first in California to add a 10ȼ charge for paper bags; since its enactment, all other California municipalities have included a paper bag charge. In December 2013, the Department of Public Works announced that the ordinance had resulted in a sustained 90 percent reduction in single-use bag use at large stores.
Los Angeles, CA In June 2013, the City Council of Los Angeles voted to ban stores from providing plastic carryout bags to customers, as well as to require stores to charge 10ȼ for paper bags. Large retailers are affected in January 2014; smaller retailers are affected in July 2014. The city was spending $2 million a year cleaning up plastic bags.
Manhattan Beach, CA After passing a plastic bag ban in 2008, the city became the first to be sued by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition—a group of plastic bag manufacturers and distributors—for not preparing an environmental impact report as required under the California Environmental Quality Act. The Coalition claimed a shift from plastic to recycled paper bags would harm the environment. Two lower courts sided with the Coalition and ruled that a report was required, but in 2011, on appeal, the California Supreme Court said that any increased use of paper bags in a small city like Manhattan Beach would have negligible environmental impact and therefore a report was unnecessary. This precedent allowed many California cities to proceed with banning plastic bags without such a report.
Nantucket Island, MA Nantucket, a small seasonal tourist town, banned non-biodegradable plastic bags in 1990. Facing a growing waste disposal problem, the town envisioned building a facility where as much material as possible could be diverted from the landfill to be recycled or composted; such a facility would only be able to accept biodegradable bags.
New York City, NY Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a 5ȼ tax on plastic bags in 2009, but the idea was later dropped in a budget agreement with the City Council. In March 2014, the City Council began to consider a proposal mandating a 10ȼ charge per plastic and paper bag at most stores.
San Francisco, CA San Francisco was the first U.S. city to regulate plastic bags. The original ordinance, which was adopted in April 2007, banned non-compostable plastic bags at all large supermarkets and chain pharmacies. In October 2012 the law was applied to all stores, and in October 2013 the law expanded to restaurants. The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition sued the city, contesting the extensions to the ban, but those were upheld by the First District Court of Appeal in December 2013. In April 2014, the Supreme Court of California denied the Coalition’s first appeal, allowing the city to keep its bag ban.
Santa Monica, CA Santa Monica has banned plastic bags from all retailers since September 2011. Grocery, liquor, and drug stores may offer paper bags for 10ȼ each, while department stores and restaurants may provide paper bags for no fee. Because the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition had sued other cities for not conducting an environmental impact review prior to the announcements of their bag bans, Santa Monica conducted a review and thus avoided a lawsuit. Plastic bags for carryout food items from restaurants and reusable bags made from polyethylene are allowed.
Seattle, WA In July 2008 the Seattle government approved a 20ȼ charge on all paper and plastic checkout bags, but opponents collected enough signatures to put the ordinance up for a vote on the August 2009 primary ballot. The Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax—consisting of the American Chemistry Council’s Progressive Bag Affiliates, 7-Eleven, and the Washington Food Industry—spent $1.4 million on the referendum campaign (15 times more than fee supporters), and voters chose to reject the ordinance. It took until July 2012 for the city to enact its current ban on plastic bags and place a 5ȼ fee on paper bags. Seattle residents are largely in favor of the ban, and attempts to gather signatures to repeal it have not been successful.
Washington, DC In January 2010, Washington, D.C., began requiring a 5ȼ charge for plastic and paper carryout bags at all retailers that sell food or alcohol. Businesses keep a portion of the fee, and the remainder goes to The Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund. A survey conducted in early 2013 found that four out of five District households are using fewer bags since the tax came into effect. Almost 60 percent of residents reported carrying reusable bags with them “always” or “most of the time” when they shop. Two thirds of District residents reported seeing less plastic bag litter since the tax came into effect. One half of businesses reported saving money because of the fee.
Source: Compiled by Earth Policy Institute, www.earth-policy.org, April 2014.

 

http://www.earth-policy.org/plan_b_updates/2014/update122

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