Statement from the CCDS Peace and Solidarity Committee
Sixty years after an armistice ended the fighting in the Korean War, the situation remains tense, abnormal and dangerous on the Korean peninsula. Any military conflict in Korea carries the risk of broadening into a catastrophic war as the US, China, Japan and Russia all have strategic interests in the area. Another major Korean war would mean large increases in US military spending and more austerity and repression at home, as well as great destruction and loss of life. The crisis of March-April 2013 did not lead to a military confrontation; however, since the basic issues have not been addressed, another crisis is at some point likely.
The first source of tension is the US refusal to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea legally ending the Korean War. Sometimes characterized as inscrutable, North Korea’s prime diplomatic objectives are actually simple and clear: sign a peace treaty with the US, get the sanctions lifted and join the international community as a respected and equal nation. It is US policy that is blocking normalization.
After World War Two, a reunited Korea would surely have chosen the popular Kim Il Sung as president since Kim had been the national leader of the Korean resistance to the Japanese occupation. Kim Il Sung, however, was also leader of the Korean Communist Party and thus unacceptable to the US, which blocked reunification. In the 1990s, North Korea participated in discussions to suspend its nuclear program in return for economic aid and movement towards recognition. In 2001, however, the Bush administration labelled Pyongyang as one of the "axis of evil" and showed in Iraq what that meant. North Korea then restarted its nuclear program and moved to further development of a nuclear weapon and long range missiles. The simulated nuclear bombing runs of US B-52s and stealth bombers practicing over South Korea only justifies in North Korean eyes their need for nuclear weapons and a powerful military.
As the world’s military superpower, far more powerful than North Korea, the US should take the initiative to reduce militarization and tensions rather than conducting provocative military exercises with South Korean forces. However, partly as a result of the Obama administration’s "pivot" to Asia/Pacific, the US has been strengthening its military presence in East Asia, including working with Japan to strengthen anti-missile defense systems. This has encouraged rightist Japanese prime minister Abe to suggest altering the Japanese pacifist constitution to allow for a stronger Japanese military presence, further inflaming tensions.
China has proposed restarting the six-party talks to energize the diplomatic process. The Chinese are North Korea’s long standing ally; China wants a denuclearized Korean peninsula and calls for reduction of US/South Korea joint military exercises and an end to provocative language. This would create a better environment for talks and reconciliation and benefit the Korean people as well as peace. China also wants closer consultation with North Korea.
CCDS urges that people contact the president and Congress to demand the US agree to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea and stop its campaign of pressure and regime change. Talks among equal partners are the only way to improve the situation in Korea. Activists should call for cutting the military budget by the US withdrawing troops and pulling back from its growing forward position in the Asia/Pacific region.
April 25, 2013
Statement of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism shares in the grief of the people of Venezuela, Latin America and freedom loving people throughout the world in the loss of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez. Below is a statement from CCDS.
HUGO CHAVEZ REKINDLED RESISTANCE TO NEOLIBERAL GLOBALIZATION
Neoliberal Globalization: The Latest Phase of Imperialism
After the rise in oil prices brought on by crises in the 1970s the industrial capitalist giants led by the United States pressured poor countries to shift from state-directed to so-called “market economies.” The G7 countries – the United States, Japan, Britain, France, Italy, West Germany, and Canada – launched a campaign to demand that countries of the Global South downsize their governments, deregulate and privatize their economies, and shift from producing goods and services for domestic consumers to exports. These policies, known as the “neo-liberal policy agenda” or the “Washington consensus” were promoted by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization., and international bankers and CEOs of the major multinational corporations.
These policies were a disaster for the vast majority of humankind. In Latin America, there was over 80 percent economic growth between 1960 and 1980, before the neo-liberal policies went into effect and only 9 percent growth from 1980 to 2000. For almost all countries of the Western Hemisphere economic inequality dramatically increased and the percentages of the people living in poverty rose.
By the dawn of the 21st century about 1/4 of Latin Americans lived in poverty (less than $2 a day). Statistics indicated a direct relationship between productivity growth and the percentage of the population living in poverty; productivity and poverty increased at the same time. In addition, the work that most Latin Americans did significantly changed. From 1950 to 1990 there was a 29 percent decline of those who worked in agriculture, a modest 5 percent increase in industrial work, and a 23 percent increase in service sector employment. In the 1990s, it was estimated that almost all job creation was in the so-called “informal sector.” That is, most new job seekers were engaged in street markets, drug dealing, prostitution, unregulated sweatshops in small facilities or people’s homes, or other low-paying, unregulated work.
Despite the dramatic decline in the quality of life experienced throughout Latin America, since the 1980s, the G7 countries, the international economic organizations, and the private banks and corporations continued to promote neo-liberalism through strident rules involving borrowing and inequitable trade agreements. However, over the last decade, resistance to neo-liberalism increased dramatically inspired by Hugo Chavez’s vision of a 21st century socialism.
Resistance to Neoliberalism Spreads: Venezuela Takes the Lead
The latest stage of protest against neo-liberalism was reflected in a massive transformation of politics in Latin America. In a series of elections throughout the region beginning in Venezuela, candidates and parties were elected to office opposing neo-liberalism and “the Washington Consensus.” These included anti-neo-liberal governments elected in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Nicaragua, as well as Venezuela. While these regimes varied in their opposition to neo-liberalism, they threatened economic “business as usual” U.S. interests.
The leadership in this movement for change in Latin America came from Venezuela. The Venezuelan story began when its citizens elected a former army officer Hugo Chavez to the presidency in 1998. Chavez launched the “Bolivarian Revolution.” At home it included a new constitution recognizing the rights of all citizens to a job, education, health care, and basic nutrition. Since then literacy and medical campaigns have dramatically transformed the quality of life of the 80 per cent of the population that were poor. Poverty was cut in half in a decade. Local planning councils and Bolivarian Circles empowered the vast majority of Venezuelans to participate in political decision-making. The government encouraged worker managed and owned factories and redistributed 2.2 million hectares of state-owned land to 130,000 peasant families and cooperatives to revitalize agriculture.
Under the leadership of Chavez, Venezuela made agreements with her neighbors, to trade oil for products that they produce. Thousands of Cuban doctors have been working in Venezuela in exchange for valuable oil. In addition, Chavez worked to build a South American common market, and with others, began constructing a regional development bank. He initiated similar ties with countries in the Caribbean and Central America. Venezuela became one of the few countries in the world to have used profits from its scarce resources to redistribute wealth, income, and power to an underclass. Chavez began to refer to his policies at home and abroad as building 21st century socialism.
Since Chavez was elected president, the United States worked to undermine and overthrow his regime, including supporting an abortive military coup against him in 2002. The efforts of the United States administrations to isolate Venezuela in the Western Hemisphere and among the countries of the Global South have failed.
Venezuela, under the leadership of Hugo Chavez became a beacon of hope for the dispossessed in his country and among the poor and oppressed throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. While his bold challenges to global imperialism will be missed we remain confident that his legacy will continue throughout the region and the world. From Cuba, to Nicaragua, to Chile, to Chiapas, to Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil, the revolution continues. We in the United States stand with you.
Viva Hugo Chavez Siempre!
Historian Mark Solomon looks at the prospects for a new socialist left
By Mark Solomon
Published by Portside March 6, 2013
On February 4, 2010 The Gallop Poll released its latest data on the public’s political attitudes. The headline read: “Socialism Viewed Positively by 36% of Americans.” While the poll did not attempt the daunting task of exploring what a diverse public understood socialism to mean, it nevertheless revealed an unmistakably sympathetic image of a system that had been pilloried for generations by all of capitalism’s dominant instruments of learning and information as well as by its power to suppress and slander socialist ideas and organization.
In sheer numbers, that means a population at the teen- age level and above of tens of millions with a favorable view of socialism.
Why then is the organized socialist movement in the United States so small and so clearly wanting in light of the potential for building its numbers and influence?
That is a crucial question. At every major juncture in the history of the country, radical individuals and organizations in advance of the mainstream have played essential roles in influencing, guiding and consolidating broad currents for social change. In the revolution that birthed this country, radical activists articulated demands from the grass roots for an uncompromising and transforming revolution to crush colonial oppression. Black and white abolitionists fought to make the erasure of slavery the core objective of the Civil War while also linking that struggle to women’s suffrage and trade unionism. A mass Socialist Party in the early 20th century fought for state intervention to combat the ravages of an increasingly exploitative economic system while advancing the vision of a socialist commonwealth. In the Great Depression, the Communist Party and its allies fought the devastations of the crisis – helping to build popular movements to expand democracy, grow industrial unions and defend protections for labor embodied in the historic New Deal.
Small left and socialist organizations in the sixties supported a range of progressive struggles from peace to civil rights to women’s liberation to gay rights and beyond. The limited resources of those groups were effective in galvanizing massive peace demonstrations and in campaigns against racist and sexist oppression. But the Cold War and McCarthyism had eviscerated any hope for a major influential socialist current. Consequently, no large and impacting force existed to extend to the peace movement a coherent anti-imperial analysis that might have contributed to its continuity and readiness to confront the wars of the nineties and the new century. Nor was there a strong socialist organization to contribute to the civil rights struggle by advocating for reform joined to a commitment to deeper social transformation. Had such a current existed, it might have contributed to building a broad protective barrier against the devastating FBI and local police violence against sectors of the movement like the Black Panthers.
There should be little debate today on the left over the need for a strong socialist voice and movement in light of festering economic stagnation, war on the working class, looming environmental catastrophe, a widening chasm between the super-rich and the rest of us, massive joblessness and incarceration savaging African Americans and other oppressed nationalities, crises in health care, housing and education. Such a strong socialist presence could offer a searching analysis of the present situation, help stimulate a broad public debate on short term solutions and formulate a vision of a socialist future that could begin to reach the minds and hearts of the 36 percent who claim to be sympathetic to that vision. Read more of this article »
We in the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism are deeply saddened by the death of Brandon Wallace on January 10th, 2013 and we express our deepest sympathy to his family and friends. Brandon was one of our young leaders with tremendous talents. His passing is a heartbreaking loss. Brandon contributed much to our organization as well as his larger community. He was well loved and respected by many.
Brandon served on the National Coordinating Committee and also helped to produce our newsletter, The Mobilizer, for which he recently did an interview with Marian Gordon about her trip to Palestine. Brandon was our Southern Regional Organizer. He was deeply committed to the local movements in Alabama where he lived.
Fellow young member of CCDS and friend Camille Williamson wrote, "As we reflect upon Brandon’s legacy of work we are reminded that the struggle for social justice is a journey full of passion, commitment, and motivation. And we will always be inspired by Brandon’s contributions to progressive movement-building. Furthermore, we will cherish his eloquent ability to synthesize his thoughts and ideas into a ribbon of poetry for all to share.”
Brandon was an award winning writer and recently published a book of poetry, Shadows and Light. He maintained a blog Julius Speaks which was, as he put it "A collage of personal, political, cultural and historical commentary from the thought of Brandon Wallace." Through his writings and actions he influenced many. He will be greatly missed.
The following is from Brandon’s book Shadows and Light. http://tinyurl.com/b58lvep
By Brandon Wallace
Bermuda Grass in Lincoln Park,
The sound of black musicians on guitar- Earth, Wind, and Fire combining the
elements in a gravitational groove, pulled into the dizzy of a neutron dance.
A lipstick, cherry bright as the light of a smile, red Thunderbird,
the blackenized Barbie turned inside out,
pulled up into the alley, against the crosspatch, metal fence
behind the house with shaved top and delicate cement,
only the slightest bit of grass growing through the cracks
where we played Red Light/ Green Light Red Green Red and Green Lights
flashing, blending together in backgrounds of black and sunshine yellow,
the red appears in pores and freckles in the brightness of the sun
with the distant green tops of trees,
the green of the electric carpet against which I used to rub to feel the current.
Rows of houses, claustrophobically close, creating closeness and warmth,
Coca Cola and Pepsi, in red bottles with white lines,
sprite in green and lemon yellow, juicy fruit and Ronald Reagan,
Jesse Jackson in wool overcoats holding signs,
campaigns for change.
Harold Washington, change,
the color of his suits.
promise and vision.
Brandon Wallace, Presente!
January 14, 2013
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Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
Call to Our Convention 2013:
Gather in Pittsburgh!
The struggle for our nation’s future has intensified. The rainbow coalition and multi-class alignment that coalesced around the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama defeated the far- right appeal to racism, misogyny, homophobia and rejection of science. This reflects the growing strength and cohesion of the multiracial labor movement and its allies within a larger progressive majority. Yet the 1% retains power and strives to manage economic crises in a way that sticks working people with the bill.
Unemployment, hunger and homelessness increase, union membership declines, and too many impoverished, crisis-shocked communities, especially in the South, remain captive to messages of hate. A rational response to the existential crisis of humanity—accelerating climate change—is blocked by capitalism’s irrational profit drive. The 99% can solve these problems on the basis of our common humanity.
Pressures of war, austerity and climate danger demand new levels of unity and struggle. New forms of labor activism lead beyond traditional trade union organizing toward a broader working class movement. The uprisings from Wisconsin to Occupy to Wal-Mart, and from Trayvon Martin to the UndocuBus, represent an emerging democracy movement. Based in the working class, linked with the community, and following the path boldly taken by the civil rights movement, today’s movements can win new demands.
Through years of experience, the Left has learned that building lasting unity among allies involves tactful, constructive and unrelenting struggle. Our work can replace neo-liberal influences with class, political, cultural and moral solidarity and democracy. CCDS focuses on the intersection of class, race and gender as fundamental to both an objective social analysis and an effective political agenda. The Left is indispensable to weaving the threads of struggle into a mass formation independent of the 1%.
Polls reveal a growing plurality of youth that prefer socialism to capitalism. With determination, we socialists proceed toward our common future. In pre-convention discussion, we will examine the economy, the environment, civil society, the commons and the state within the context of the class struggle. Now CCDS calls upon its members and allies to convene in Pittsburgh in July, 2013 to assess our experience and to plan for the future.
Access the Main Pre-Convention Discussion Document at http://ccds-discussion.org
Download a PDF File of The Call
Convention 2013: Draft Main Resolution
This document is a draft of the main resolution on the 2013 convention agenda. CCDS conventions follow democratic process in discussion, amendment and voting on this and all resolutions. Your active participation in thorough discussion of this document before the convention is a crucial part of the democratic process. Please post your comments at http://www.ccds-discussion.org/?p=2337.
TURNING POINT: Growing Dangers and Growing Progressive Strength Require a Bolder Strategy
In an 1859 study of conflict and social transformation, Karl Marx wrote,
“it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic-in short, the ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.”
Let this guide our pre-convention discussion.
Three decades ago, the post-WW2 economic boom began to stagnate in the United States, Europe and Japan. At first uneven, a global pattern became dominant. To shore up declining rates of profit, the bourgeoisie dismantled economic regulatory mechanisms. Employing new technologies, they moved production to countries on the low-wage periphery of capitalism. At home, wages, and then consumption, stagnated. Economic expansion relied increasingly on loans and other financial instruments. This secured the dominance of financiers in the economy and the state.
Austerity. After looting public treasuries in a series of regressive tax cuts, and still more looting to recoup staggering investment losses, financiers now demand cuts in social programs. These programs, the social wage, support the standard of living of the working class. The cuts are called “austerity”-for whom?
Financiers spoke in a spring, 2012 Forbes editorial:
“If these governments can quickly balance their budgets and lower the level of nominal debt
outstanding; it gives them a chance to restore investors’ confidence in the bond market … and offers the
hope that the private sector can rapidly supplant the erstwhile reliance on public sector spending.”
Their jargon disguises their intent. The financial bourgeoisie is not against public spending-on the military. Their real goal is to reduce total wages by gradually eliminating the social wage. The more wages fall, the greater their take. Thus they undermine the part of the state that provides what their pundits deride as “entitlements.” Yes, medical care in old age and in poverty, food stamps to alleviate starvation, and free and compulsory public education are entitlements-human rights for which we will fight.
War. Requiring OPEC to trade oil in U.S. dollars has underwritten the international dominance of U.S. financial institutions since 1973. OPEC member states Iraq, Iran, Libya and Venezuela began to resist in 2000. Rather than recognize their sovereignty, the U.S. government decided to maintain the petrodollar system by perpetuating a state of war in the oil-rich regions. Facing an expanding arsenal- guns, bombs, corporate mercenaries, devastating blockades cloaked in diplomacy, missiles launched from remote-control drones-the peoples of those regions pay with their lives, as do the United States
The emergence of China as a world economic power, as a competitor for natural resources and markets, and as a creditor to the capitalist states has been met with the establishment of a second U.S. military focus: the South China Sea. By militarily supporting Taiwan separatists, Japanese revanchists and the South Korean right, U.S. policy creates international tensions aimed at weakening China and hindering peaceful economic and social cooperation in Asia.
Climate Danger. In 2009, the U.S. National Academy of Science joined the national academies of a dozen other countries to report:
“climate change is happening even faster than previously estimated; global CO2 emissions since 2000 have been higher than even the highest predictions, Arctic sea ice has been melting at rates much faster than predicted, and the rise in the sea level has become more rapid. Feedbacks in the climate system might lead to much more rapid climate changes. The need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable. For example, limiting global warming to 2°C would require a very rapid worldwide implementation of all currently available low carbon technologies.”
The world’s scientists have unequivocally concluded that the need for “very rapid” action is “urgent.”
Why do the world’s governments take no action? London’s Carbon Tracker Initiative estimates that the world’s proven oil, gas and coal reserves contain the equivalent of 2,795 gigatons of CO2. Scientists estimate that limiting global warming to 2°C requires limiting CO2 release to less than 565 gigatons. However, as Bill McKibben writes in the Rolling Stone of August 2, 2012:
“John Fullerton, a former managing director at JP Morgan who now runs the Capital Institute, calculates that at today’s market value, those 2,795 gigatons of carbon emissions are worth about $27 trillion. Which is to say, if you paid attention to the scientists and kept 80 percent of it underground, you’d be writing off $20 trillion in assets. The numbers aren’t exact, of course, but that carbon bubble makes the housing bubble look small by comparison. It won’t necessarily burst-we might well burn all that carbon, in which case investors will do fine. But if we do, the planet will crater.”
The financial capitalists stand in the way of a rational solution to civilization’s crisis of existence- climate change.
Marx continued the 1859 passage cited above observing that new conditions mature within the old society, and concluded:
“Humankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation.”
The 99% must empower itself; that is where the solutions lie.
Federal Elections. In 2010, Tea Party demagoguery and lackluster Democratic leadership lured crisis-shocked workers into handing Republicans substantial gains in Congress and in state legislatures. In 2012, the Progressive Majority behind President Obama’s 2008 victory prevailed against a Republican campaign of racism, misogyny, homophobia and rejection of science. While ruling class elements paid the obscene media bill, the election was won with a powerful grassroots campaign by trade unionists, Blacks, Latinos, women, gays, seniors and youth—a social bloc based in the working class.
State Elections. In 2012, the two parties’ fortunes in state elections ran counter to those at the federal level. New districts followed Republican maps, the fallout of the 2010 elections. Thirty-eight one-party state legislatures emerged in 2012-twenty-four Republican, including all Southern states but Kentucky. Yet again, crisis-shocked workers-especially in impoverished Southern states with little union organization-fell for messages of hate from the network of institutions designed to maintain capitalist power. Indeed, politics is much more than elections.
Politics Is the struggle for hearts and minds; it is the struggle for class power. People generally see politics as annual public contests at the ballot box, the outcomes of which are thought to rest on a public discussion of the candidates’ personal characters and general ideals. Yet the function of this image, like the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, is only to conceal the real sources and mechanisms of power. The political power of the ruling class rests ultimately on its ownership of the main strategic economic assets, including key media outlets. Because it wishes to stifle the exercise of power by the working class, the ruling class seeks to limit working class understanding of how power works.
Yes, elections are political, as is the whole realm of the state, which encompasses powers of coercion such as the new Jim Crow of mass incarceration, as well as public policy and the rest of the public sector, from sanitation services to social security. The struggle for democracy occurs not only in voting booths, but also in workplaces and communities. In fact, the Voting Rights Act was not won by voting. It was won in pitched battles in civil society, the political arena outside the family, the state and the economy, which we sometimes call the streets.
Wikileaks’ use of the internet to open the U.S. government’s cloak of secrecy is politics in the field of the commons, the intellectual and natural resources that belong by right to all society. Transforming elements of the commons into private property is called privatization or enclosure. The historic defense of the commons against enclosure has come down to saving the fresh water supply from privatization, and to protecting crops and human genes from corporate ownership by patent. The outcome of this struggle is of fundamental significance to democracy: will private corporate interests control access to water, food and medicine?
Classes are based in economic relations, which makes the economy the fundamental arena of politics. Trade union organizing and campaigns for equal pay for equal work are politics in the field of the economy. Workers’ cooperatives benefit worker-participants and model an economic alternative to capitalism. Especially in light of the danger posed by carbon emissions, the highest political question in the field of the economy is what society produces and how.
Politics runs through all these channels, day after day, year after year, and it is impossible to develop a class political strategy without recognizing that fact.
Alliances. The Communist Manifesto informs us: “The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority,” it encourages strategic alliances, and advises us: “The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement.” As the present multi-class electoral alignment strains under austerity, war and climate danger, we must weave together a mass formation independent of the capitalist plutocracy.
New Alignments, New Strategies
Retreating under capitalist onslaught, union membership in the United States, the European Union and Japan continued its downward spiral. Fighting defensive battles, the Left has also retreated. Yet spontaneous militant movements-the Arab Spring, the Indignados of Spain, the workers’ occupations of the statehouses in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, Occupy Wall Street-rose up and shook society by the shoulders. The 99% had no more space to retreat-the banks had foreclosed our homes! Business-as-usual was shattered, political discourse was changed from the need to cut social services to the need to end gross disparities in income and wealth. We were revived.
A new consciousness of the struggle for democracy emerged in the protests against the “stand your ground” vigilante laws and the killing of Trayvon Martin, in the protests against the death penalty and the judicial murder of Troy Davis, and in the struggles of courageous undocumented workers and students who openly rode the UndocuBus and fought for the Dream Act. New forms of labor organizing appeared and spread, drawing working class communities into direct action at the workplace: the long campaign at Republic Windows and Doors that gave birth to a workers’ coop in Chicagoland, the Chicago teachers’ strike, the nationwide actions at Wal-Mart, and the growing Southern Workers’ Assembly.
Struggles involving communities in direct action to organize the workplace-with or without a sanctioned election-project beyond the current state of the trade unions toward a growing working class movement. It is a rejection of business unionism, which reduced unions to fee-for-service organizations on behalf of the narrowest workplace interests-the Cold War mold into which unions were forced, as socialists and communists were kicked out of elected leadership and staff positions. The European general strikes against austerity, of similar significance, united the labor movement, calling upon, and serving, the whole class.
Emerging is a democracy movement based in the working class, one capable of winning demands from the capitalist system by following the bold path of the Civil Rights Movement in an earlier day. The Left must recover its revolutionary heritage, help this movement forward, and, along with our allies in labor, draw the difficult lessons on the need to overcome Cold War remnants and other deterrents to independent initiative.
The Rainbow Model. Looking forward, formations such as North Carolina’s Historic Thousands on Jones Street Coalition, South Carolina’s Progressive Network and Ties That Bind Coalition, and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, could play a special role in state-level political struggles, linking the economy, civil society and electoral politics. From the viewpoint of electoral politics-by walking picket lines and taking up street-level struggles that matter to our communities-this link means constituency building. From the viewpoint of civil society, this link can drive accountability of elected officials.
During the 1980s, the Rainbow Coalition played this role at the national level. After President Carter fired U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young for meeting with Palestinian representatives, Reverend Jackson’s dramatic 1979 mission to Palestine garnered support in the African-American community. In 1984, he negotiated the return from Syria of a captured U.S. pilot, boosting his presidential campaign. The Rainbow became a phenomenon in 1988, when Jackson walked the picket line with striking paper workers in Jay, Maine and supported family farmers in Greenville, Iowa. The Rainbow linked-to mutual advantage-movements in the economy, civil society and the state.
“The Rainbow Coalition is a mass political movement, committed to the expansion of the definition and practice of democracy in our country, including the realization of economic justice. As such it has to be bold enough to perceive of itself as the historic replacement for the existing two-party system: one prepared to act as a ‘dual authority,’ carrying out political education, developing the public’s insights into the systemic character of many of the nation’s problems, and consequently proposing solutions to these problems that are germane.”
Alliance Anatomy. The Rainbow campaigns contributed to President Obama’s electoral successes. But why did Obama’s presidential bid succeed while Jackson’s failed? The Obama campaign was based on a far larger alignment, a multi-class alignment that encompassed class interests from the working class suffering from economic stagnation, to Wall Street bankers expecting a titanic federal bailout. Clearly, the politics of such an alignment is unreliable for workers, but acceptable to the ruling elite. The class basis of the Rainbow, on the other hand, lay with family farmers and workers. Its political program was anathema to the ruling class, and was not destined to capture the presidency in the 1980s. But the future belongs to the Rainbow.
These two formations have historical names. The Popular Front was the multi-class alignment that emerged in the United States, as well as in other countries, during WWII and the anti-fascist struggle. Within it, the deep alliance around the militant CIO unions and the CIO Political Action Committee was termed the United Front. Similar formations emerged in other countries as well. With President Franklin Roosevelt’s death, the Popular Front suffered a serious blow, as bourgeois participants turned against their working class partners, a prelude to Cold War. While the united front could continue, it organized a wave of strikes for Roosevelt’s second bill of rights. Its last recognizable mass effort was the 1948 Progressive Party presidential campaign of Henry Wallace, although it was officially opposed by the CIO. In general, relations among parties to a popular front will be strained on precisely those issues where the interests of the united front diverge from those of leading capitalists.
Over the last several years, a multi-class popular front–what CCDS terms the Progressive Majority–came together to support the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and to defend against the political right wing. The United Front-from the state-level formations to the One Nation Working Together coalition mentioned above-is what can change the Progressive Majority from a defensive alignment to a transformative alignment. The Progressive Majority is a framework in which social leadership can be contested by the United Front while it acts to shift the terrain of struggle in its favor and to isolate the financial bourgeoisie.
Transition. The transition in the Progressive Majority from leadership by sectors of the capitalist class to leadership by the working class forces of the United Front may be extended-punctuated perhaps by acute economic, military or climate crises. This transition requires a more self-conscious working class, which in turn requires a more unified and larger Left. The Left must help to forward the emerging united fronts by building up a body of capable activists at the grass roots. Of course, we seek to retain what is useful in the Progressive Majority. A sound chess strategy looks, not just at the next move, but at the next three.
Though we struggle with organizational fragmentation and lingering feelings of political isolation, the Left has an indispensable role to play in supporting emerging strategic formations and encouraging their independence of action. Together with allies, our central task is organization-building. The Left’s distinct contribution in that central task is revolutionary education. In educating new activists, we are uniquely able to impart the sensitivity necessary for service to the class at its grass roots, as well as the broad understanding of social dynamics necessary for visionary leadership. The Left must work, tactfully and unrelentingly, to rebuff neo-liberal influences and to nourish class, political, cultural and moral solidarity and democracy.
For some years, Left organizations have cooperated in popular struggles. This cooperation could be deepened qualitatively by developing a common southern strategy. Organizing gains in the South- historic base of the Black masses, locus of new manufacturing investments-have a multiplier effect throughout the country. This could broaden the foundation for organizational unity. The CCDS focus on the intersection of class, race and gender contributes to lasting unity among allies.
In poll after poll, a significant number of youth favor socialism over capitalism. We socialists take heart, and proceed with determination for our common future. CCDS calls on its allies and members to convene in Pittsburgh in July, 2013 to assess the concrete situation and the quality of our work since the last convention, and to orient ourselves to the future. There will be an expanded opportunity to plan our work in strategic areas of struggle.
Download a PDF file of the main discussion document
Goldman Turns Tables on Obama Campaign
By LIZ RAPPAPORT and BRODY MULLINS
Wall Street Journal
Oct 9, 2012 – When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, no major U.S. corporation did more to finance his campaign than Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
This election, none has done more to help defeat him.
Prompted by what they call regulatory attacks on their business and personal attacks on their character, executives and employees of Goldman Sachs have largely abandoned Mr. Obama and are now the top sources of money to presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.
In the four decades since Congress created the campaign-finance system, no company’s employees have switched sides so abruptly, moving from top supporters of one camp to the top of its rival, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of campaign-finance data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Employees at Goldman donated more than $1 million to Mr. Obama when he first ran for president. This election, they have given the president’s campaign $136,000—less than Mr. Obama has collected from employees of the State Department. The employees have contributed nothing to the leading Democratic super PAC supporting his re-election.
By contrast, Goldman employees have given Mr. Romney’s campaign $900,000, plus another $900,000 to the super PAC founded to help him.
Underscoring the magnitude of the reversal, Goldman has been the No. 1 source of campaign cash to Democrats among companies during the 23 years the Center for Responsive Politics has been collecting such data.
Read more of this article »
Followers of Bo Xilai Criticize Direction of Communist Party, Exposing Leaders to Sensitive Questions Over Mao’s Legacy
By BRIAN SPEGELE
SolidarityEconomy.net via Wall Street Journal
BEIJING Oct 6, 2012—Supporters of ousted political leader Bo Xilai are turning up the note of political discord in China with increasingly loud criticism that the policies of current Communist Party leaders are widening inequality and breeding social unrest.
The movement, known as the new left, remains relatively small and obscure, and is unlikely to have a major impact on the coming shuffle of party leadership positions. But criticism from Communist hard-liners in the era of online social media places China’s leaders in a tricky position as a debate over the direction of the party and China’s economic model is quickly spreading from universities and closed-door sessions into public view.
Calls from what’s known as China’s new left are growing in volume, laying bare divisions around Mao’s legacy and the role of the state in China’s economy, placing leaders in a tricky position. Anti-Japan protesters hold portraits of Mao outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing last month.
The new left—a loose collection of academics, lower-ranking government officials, writers and overseas activists—advocates a stronger hand for the state in economic planning as well as a return to the values put forth by the late Chairman Mao Zedong. The new left argues that China’s economic reforms over more than 30 years have led to wide income disparity, and the movement has criticized the takedown of Mr. Bo, once its most visible leader.
Dealing with the new left requires some balancing for the party. Unlike the political activists who often oppose the party on democratic or human-rights grounds, the new leftists act as defenders of the vision Mao once laid out for China: Rejecting them outright would risk exposing party leaders to sensitive questions around the very foundation the party is built on.
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By Ethan Young
Left Labor Project
More than 100 NYC-area trade union activists and supporters heard Bill Fletcher, Jr’s analysis of the election on September 24. The event was organized by Left Labor Project, a local socialist group focused on moving the labor movement in a more consciously progressive direction.
Fletcher’s speech and q&a discussion were chaired by Muata Green, a DC 37 retiree and member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO/OSCL). Anne Mitchell of CCDS kept time to ensure broad participation. The crowd was a healthy mix – multiracial, old, young and in-between. Sisters and brothers from at least a dozen unions took part.
Fletcher recently co-authored a widely circulated op-ed, “The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama’s Record … Which Is Why We Are Voting For Him” (http://www.progressivesforobama.net/?p=263). He came prepared to respond to the criticism it prompted from left opponents of the Obama campaign. In his speech he raised strong points of opposition to Obama’s moderate response to the insurgent right, which he compared to the Allies at Anzio in World War II. “They could have taken Rome,” he said, “but they stayed put, playing it by the book until they were surrounded.” Obama, he stressed, “is not us. He’s the President of an empire. We have to remember that.” But Fletcher spoke to the need to unite with the President’s supporters to head off the challenge of the Far Right, which he described as revanchist (“As in revenge”) and irrational (“Government hands off Medicare”). He noted the changing racial demographic of the country, and the xenophobic panic that is driving the Romney campaign.
Moving to long range strategy, Fletcher said the Left today needs “a modern Tecumseh.” He recalled Gramsci’s work The Modern Prince, which updated Machiavelli’s views on political leadership for the 20th century. In Gramsci’s words:
“The modern prince … cannot be a real person, a concrete individual. It can only be an organism, a complex element of society in which a collective will which has already been recognised and has to some extent asserted itself in action, begins to take concrete form. History has already provided this organism, and it is the political party – the first cell in which there come together germs of a collective will tending to become universal and total.”
In contrast to Machiavelli, for the US Left Fletcher pointed to the Shawnee warrior Tecumseh, who built a confederation of tribes to resist European settler encroachment and genocide starting in the 1780s. Tecumseh, Fletcher noted, counseled unity, solidarity and shared sacrifice, and warned against uncoordinated, poorly considered action. The experience of unifying Indian tribes has lessons for today – in particular, the need for broad political organization to meet present-day challenges.
Fletcher spoke of neoliberal, pro-austerity policies likely to continue after the election. In response, he advocated bringing social movements together in January 2013 at the Presidential inauguration. He declared that, unlike 2008, this time there should be a strong stand in Washington, demanding jobs. “We gave our all to get him elected, but then we gave him a pass,” he said. “That can’t happen again.”
The expected debate in the q&a session didn’t happen – questions were serious, but generally coming from a supportive point of view. Fletcher sold out his supply of his newly released book, “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions, which he signed for the attendees.
Fletcher was introduced by Arthur Cheliotes, President of Communication Workers of America Local 1180. The meeting room was donated by 1180, which represents a range of public and private sector workers in NYC. -30-
The vast wealth amassed by US finance capital has been created over many decades by working people in this and many other countries. The unsustainable disparity in wealth under capitalism has resulted in a profound global social and economic crisis. Unbounded greed drives the moguls of Wall Street to push austerity on its victims to rescue themselves from the crisis.
The people’s fightback has taken many forms.The campaign to restore the federal financial transactions tax is one of these fights. It offers a chance to take back speculative gains and apply them to health care, education, housing, infrastructure and other job-generating programs that meet human needs.
A 0.5% tax on stock sales over $100, plus a lesser levy on other financial trading, will generate as much as $350 billion per year. Together with a long-delayed peace dividend and the establishment of a single-payer, Medicare-for-all healthcare system, we will see the end of the recession and a path forward.
Take it back! Make Wall Street fund a recovery for Main Street:
- Improved Medicare for all
- Decent affordable housing
- Safe & healthy environment
- Quality universal education
- Good jobs with dignity for all
- Bring them home: Rebuild our crumbling infrastructure
Both Representative John Conyers’ Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act (HR.870) and the Sanders-McDermott American Health Security Act (S.915-HR.1200) employ such a financial transactions tax to fund their goals.
A financial transactions tax, known globally as the Robin Hood Tax, was in place in the US until 1966. Forty countries have it right now. Other countries are weighing its launch. The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism urges all to join the new coalition being formed to push this campaign forward. Go to http://www.RobinHoodTax.org
to get plugged in.
It’s not a tax on the people, but a tax for the people.
Nurses in Chicago NATO/G8 Protests Demanding ‘Robin Hood’ Tax
National Nurses United: Linking Global Struggle
With Successful Organizing in Difficult Places
By Sandy Eaton, RN
National Nurses United, the two-year-old national union of registered nurses, called on its members and all their allies to Come Together to Heal the World in Chicago on May 18th. This marks the latest phase in the union’s campaign for a Financial Transaction Tax, the “Robin Hood Tax,” which began outside the US Chamber of Commerce on Lafayette Park last June and quickly spread to Wall Street and beyond.
NNU’s annual Staff Nurse Assembly this year bypassed Capitol Hill, its usual venue, for Chicago, the original site of the G8-NATO summit. Having sent a strong delegation to Cannes last December to target the G20 while rallying in cities across the US at the same time, the nurses seized this opportunity to advance the fight for a 0.5% tax on stock trading and other transactions in order to garner up to $350 billion per year to create jobs and meet human needs. More than 100 organizations of community, environmental, labor and health groups from around the world endorsed the event.
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