Bernie Sanders to unveil a $146 billion ‘Marshall Plan’ for Puerto Rico

Posted by Janet Tuckers on November 28, 2017 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 28: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) addresses a rally in support of Social Security.


Bernie Sanders to unveil a $146 billion ‘Marshall Plan’ for Puerto Rico
By Jeff Stein November 28 at 6:00 AM from the Washington Post

On Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will unveil an ambitious $146 billion Puerto Rico recovery plan he says will allow renewable power sources such as solar and wind to provide about 70 percent of the island’s energy needs within the decade.

The bill, which has the backing of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, also calls on Congress to consider retiring Puerto Rico’s debt and would give the island billions in additional federal funding for transportation, health care and education in the hopes of stemming a feared mass exodus to the mainland. It would also allocate funds to the Virgin Islands, which were similarly devastated by Hurricane Maria.

“This is the closest we have to a Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico,” said Ramón Luis Nieves, a former member of the Senate of Puerto Rico who has testified to Congress about the hurricane’s impacts.

Sanders’s bill is highly unlikely to get a vote in Congress and is more generous even than the $94 billion requested by Ricardo Rosselló, Puerto Rico’s governor.

Sanders’s bill would give $62 billion to help the cash-strapped Puerto Rican government; $51 billion for economic development; $27 billion for infrastructure, including new energy infrastructure; and billions more for education and environmental remediation.

The Trump administration has requested $29 billion in emergency natural disaster funding to be shared between Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas — but only a fraction is designated for Puerto Rico. That package is expected to pass.

“More than two months after Hurricane Maria, in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, most of the homes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still without electricity. This is beyond belief,” Sanders said. “Congress must work with the people of Puerto Rico to fundamentally transform its expensive, antiquated and unreliable system.”

Puerto Rico’s energy grid is maintained by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), which has come under fire for what critics have called its slow and ineffectual response to the hurricane. PREPA drew congressional scrutiny for awarding a no-bid $300 million contract to Whitefish, a small Montana firm. PREPA, which filed, in effect, for bankruptcy last July, is the sole provider of electricity for the 1.5 million residents.

Conservative lawmakers and several members of Puerto Rico’s fiscal oversight board have called for parts of PREPA to be privatized.

“The board certainly considers privatization one of the options going forward,” Natalie Jaresko, the executive director of Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board, said to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) at a recent House hearing. “There’s currently a question that remains open to see whether it’s privatization of the entire power sector … or some select part.”

Sanders’s bill, which would put $13 billion into rebuilding the electrical grids in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, would bring the debate about privatizing PREPA to a head. The measure explicitly prohibits public infrastructure receiving federal aid, such as the electrical grid, from being transferred to private ownership.

But Puerto Rican officials say they are already working with private-sector companies to install solar panels and microgrids in remote sections of the island.

Sanders’ bill would set aside $428 million in grants for homeowners and cities for solar panels and microturbines and more than $40 million for grants to improve home energy efficiency.

“The case for renewables is that it’s the cheapest way to do it, and certainly the cheapest in the island’s isolated communities,” said Steven Kyle, an economist at Cornell University who has reviewed Sanders’s bill. “Since they’re starting from zero, they have a unique opportunity here.”

Most engineers estimate that Puerto Rico could get up to 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources within the decade, according to Sergio Marxuach, public policy director at Center for a New Economy, a nonpartisan think tank on the island territory. “Seventy percent is definitely on the upper bound of what’s possible,” Marxuach said. “But, sure, if you throw enough money at a problem, you can do a lot of things.”

In a statement, Rosselló thanked Sanders for trying to help Puerto Rico, though he stopped short of offering an endorsement of the bill. “We are committed to rebuilding Puerto Rico smarter and stronger than ever before, but we need all the assistance we can get from the federal government,” Rosselló said. “We welcome all discussions and proposals being discussed in the United States Senate, including Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposed bill, that seek to provide the resources necessary to rebuild Puerto Rico.”

Luis Fortuño, the former governor of Puerto Rico, said that he thought it would be a mistake to prevent transferring parts of the electrical grid into private ownership. “You need a lower cost of power, and the only way to accomplish that is through a competitive process through the private sector,” said Fortuño, who added that he hadn’t read Sanders’ proposal and that he supports its greater public investment in renewable energies.

Experts have emphasized that the federal government should not simply replace Puerto Rico’s old grid with a new one similarly exposed to catastrophic storms.

A senior White House official told Reuters that the administration does not support rebuilding the original vulnerable grid. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has backed rebuilding Puerto Rico’s electrical systems with microgrids or through distributed energy — but the senator hasn’t yet introduced legislation for doing so, according to a spokesperson.

“It’d be a phenomenal mistake to spend federal tax dollars rebuilding the polluting, expensive, decrepit grid,” said Judith Enck, who oversaw Puerto Rico as a regional administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency during President Obama’s administration. “My great fear is FEMA will reconstruct the old grid — and when the next hurricane hits, it will all come tumbling down again.”

Nieves, the former Puerto Rican state senator, said that while he supports Sanders’s legislation, he fears an ideological debate over the energy grid’s future in Congress could lead to inaction. “The right says PREPA has to be privatized, and that’s the solution for everything; the left says it must remain a public corporation and is opposed to privatization,” he said. “In the middle of that debate lies the fate of the Puerto Rican people.”

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) will co-sponsor Sanders’s bill, and a handful of other Democratic senators are considering doing so as well. It has also been endorsed by 73 liberal and labor organizations, including, the Sierra Club, and the Service Employees International Union.

“I was glad to work closely with Senator Sanders on this far-reaching bill so that we can aid our fellow U.S. citizens and help them along a path to full recovery,” Warren told The Washington Post.

Jeff Stein covers policy for Wonkblog Follow @jstein_wonkblog

“Winning the Hearts and Minds of the People!”

Posted by Janet Tuckers on September 18, 2017 under Antiwar | Be the First to Comment

index“Winning the Hearts and Minds of the People!”

by Walter Teague

As a veteran and anti-war activist since 1964, viewing most of Ken Burn’s documentary The Vietnam War I am worried not so much about the content or quality of the film, but about its long term effect on the public’s understanding and acceptance of the current and future such wars.

Most of the reviews especially by other veterans of the war and anti-war movement, agree the film is flawed and point out historical and political discrepancies. Most also recognize that Burns presents a middle-of-the-road position and he admits his aim is to resolve the conflicts the war left in the U.S.

While most critics focus on the films accuracy or focus and hope the film will provide a base for further understanding, few discuss the likely ongoing effect on a public which knows little of the US war on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and is often accepting or confused about the current seven ongoing wars. My observation is that efforts by veterans and critics have not been allowed equal time at film previews nor can they compete with the massive public hype around this historic event.

The film does show much of the ugliness of U.S. motives and actions. But will showing these flaws and U.S. bias help or prevent most U.S. viewers to develop a full awareness of the troubling lessons? Will the vietnamweaknesses and omissions of the film succeed in smoothing over the more vile and aggressive causes of the U.S. aggression and conduct of the war? Will this film by excusing U.S. aggression and war crimes, make it easier for the U.S. government to continue and expand its current and future wars?

So the more serious question is not is this a good and accurate film, but will this film help prevent such tragic and immoral U.S. war crimes past, present and future? Will this film help prevent more wars by revealing to the average viewer, the true causes and horrors?

Therefore I have 2 major disagreements with the argument that the film should be judged separately from its public affect.

1st, it is not just a film. Many reviews focus on the discrepancies with the facts and interpretations of the political history. This approach supports the conclusion that this film series can and should be something to build on. I agree we should build upon the film since it will be a major public event whatever its weaknesses, but because the film is likely to dominate public opinion, it is all the more important we consider what the overall political impact will be and what can be done to mitigate the damage.

2nd, will it really promote peace? Most of the reviews and critiques of the film are from those who already know a great deal about these issues. However the most important impact of this film is not as entertainment or even a historical record, but its special and likely massive potential impact on the general public’s awareness and interpretation of the meaning of that war. In a tivietnam3me of ongoing wars and charges of war crimes, the U.S. Pentagon recognizes the public’s view of the Vietnam War can influence public support or opposition for its current and future wars. Therefore the Pentagon has initiated a massive 13 year campaign to present and organize public awareness to support the Pentagon’s point of view.1 In the middle of this massive Pentagon campaign to re-write the Vietnam War history and white-wash the war crimes and anti-war movements, PBS’s 18 hour series will play again and again and become an important part of the public’s education.
Is there any question whether this film’s effect will agree with the Pentagon’s view or be counter to it and even if it helps to educate the public? How effectively it builds support or opposition to ongoing wars will be the major test of this film series.

And then will this film help or hinder the pentagon’s effort by rewriting the history of this war to protect the US from any quilt or blame for its past and continuing war crimes?1

At a time when the President surrounds himself with generals and actions that risk adding major wars in Asia and Africa to the ongoing 7 wars so little understood or opposed by the general public, I am reminded of that phrase we all remember, “winning the hearts and minds of the people!”

Since the US public is the real target and their reactions will determinant the effectiveness of this film, we should ask how will this film influence the less inp&j2formed public. Will it reveal that the U.S. intentionally started the war for only slightly hidden Imperial purposes? Will it reveal the many systemic war crimes detailed in the pentagon papers and discussed in Congress? Will this film help change the views of those who have heard for 50 years how we should have won the war and it was a mistake not to support the troops? Will they finally realize they were being massively lied to just as they have been lied to since? Will it build opposition or support for the ongoing and new wars?

The reviews I’ve read fall into two general categories, those who consider The Vietnam War as a portrayal of a major error and the others including a spectrum of those who see the war as a major moral crime that should teach us to guard against those who try to rationalize or recreate such wars. Today most of us know not to trust the Pentagon, but how many will be deluded by Ken Burns into agreeing that the war was started by people with good intentions?

The public’s awareness is likely to be split since most know little about the facts or causes of the war. Using this film to teach one-on-one, many of us could easily debunk and correct the glaring historic distortions and counter the pentagon’s 50th anniversary effort. But if those of us who are opposed to the U.S. claims and actions that led to this terrible war, soft pedal our responses, it is very unlikely we will have an opportunity to protect the larger public from once again being misled by what I believe is a major propaganda documentary.


Walter Teague, 9-16-17


Posted by Janet Tuckers on July 20, 2017 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

National Executive Committeemaduro_rally
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS)
End the Interference in Venezuela
The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) joins with people all over the world to demand that the United States stop interfering in the internal affairs of the sovereign nation of Venezuela. This interference is intended to embolden the political right and to cause such internal turmoil as to destabilize the current democratically-elected government until it is overthrown
We demand an end to US efforts to isolate Venezuelan diplomats from normal international interaction, stop efforts to blockade and weaken the Venezuelan economy, and end support for internal opposition elements who are engaging in violence and physical destruction in the streets of Caracas. We applaud and support the efforts of Pope Francis to launch a negotiation to end the violent conflict between the Maduro government and opposition factions.
United States Opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution
Senate Bill S-1018 (Venezuelan Humanitarian Assistance and Defense of Democratic Governance Act of 2017”) introduced in May, 2017 is designed to escalate interference in the internal politics of Venezuela. The Alliance for Global Justice indicates that the proposed legislation includes provisions that construes criminal conduct in Venezuela as political repression, provides “humanitarian assistance” to opposition groups, urges the Organization of American States to ostracize Venezuela for violating democracy, isolates Venezuelan diplomats from participating in international organizations because of charges of drug dealing or corruption, and expands an economic embargo to increase the misery experienced by the majority of Venezuelan citizens.
The Senate Bill is just one of the most recent examples of a twenty-year strategy to undermine and overthrow the populist Venezuelan government launched by Hugo Chavez. This United States effort at regime change included supporting a military coup against him in 2002. After the untimely death of Chavez in 2013, his replacement, Nicholas Maduro, has been subjected to escalated US subversion of the government and support for wealthy Venezuelans who have launched a civil war against the democratically elected government. What Chavistas call the Bolivarian Revolution, an historic project of the Latin American people to gain their national sovereignty from imperial control of the United States, is now threatened with a violent civil war against the regime. The majority of the population of Venezuela now experience food shortages, inflated prices, and reduced resources for maintaining newly created grassroots institutions including health care and worker cooperatives. While the root causes of the crisis are many, including an over-reliance on an oil-based export economy, the problems the country face are inextricably connected to US-based subversion and efforts to overthrow the government by the Venezuelan wealthy class.
What is taking place in Venezuela is a right-wing reaction to a popular revolution

The revolution began with the Bolivarian movement conceived under the presidency of the late Hugo Chavez. Since the untimely demise of Chavez, the movement has pressed forward, expanding and consolidating its gains, discomforting the Venezuelan affluent classes and their allies in Washington, DC. Historically revolutionary resistance to big power dominance invariably generates violent backlash from those who cling to wealth and power in the international system and their partners within societies.

The long-standing subversion of Venezuela is virtually a repeat of what happened in Chile during the early 1970s. The Popular Unity government headed by Salvador Allende was successful in promoting revolutionary goals until a U.S. backed coup killed him and overthrew the legally-elected Allende government. Thousands were tortured and murdered, and Chilean society was set back for decades, a trauma from which it has been taking years to heal.
With popular movements rising everywhere in the twenty-first century, it is imperative that progressives support revolutionary change in other countries first and foremost by staunch opposition to our own government’s imperial foreign policy aims. The struggles against racism at home, for single-payer health care, and economic justice for workers are parallel to and connected to the struggles proceeding all across the globe. “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

Paul Krehbiel
Rafael Pizarro
Harry Targ
Janet Tucker
Co-Chairs, CCDS


Posted by Janet Tuckers on July 11, 2017 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

SUNDAY, JULY 2, 2017

Harry Targ

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1848.

And here let me emphasize the fact and it cannot be repeated too often that the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace. Yours not to reason why; Yours but to do and die. Eugene V. Debs, June 16, 1918, Canton, Ohio.

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. Dr. Martin Luther King, April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, New York.

The Capitalist System is a War System

Marx and Engels declared in their famous 1848 manifesto that capitalism was a world system.  Due to cutthroat competition every corporation, every bank, every small business would need to expand or it would be defeated in the marketplace by more successful competitors. Therefore, competition would lead to consolidation, a shift from many economic actors to declining numbers of them. This process of capital accumulation extended to the entire globe.

Lenin argued that by the dawn of the twentieth century, competition had led to monopolies within countries. States driven by monopolies expanded all across the globe. Competing states often engaged in war. Their expansion also generated resistance, rebellion and revolution around the world. In sum, the capitalist system by its very nature was a war system.

In addition, capitalist economies, particularly imperial powers such as the United States, required natural resources, cheap or slave labor, land, customers for products, and opportunities to invest accumulated profits in overseas corporations, and banks. In the post-World War II period, capitalist expansion even required the establishment of a global debt system that would increase the possibility of penetrating the economies of countries that incurred debts.

The realities that Marx identified in the nineteenth century are relevant today in two ways. First, given technological advances, what economists call neoliberal globalization is the logical extension of his insight that capitalism needs to “establish connections everywhere.”

Second, given episodes of resistance to capitalist expansion, conflict and violence in the global system are likely to occur from time to time among capitalist states (each seeking to enhance their own monopolies), between capitalist states and emerging socialist states that reject the very premises of capitalist economics, and between capitalist states and marginalized people who rebel against capitalist/imperialist intrusion.

In the twentieth century hundreds of wars and covert interventions resulted in deaths exceeding 100 million people. Between 1945 and 1995 the United States alone was involved in wars, civil conflicts, and covert operations that cost more than 10 million deaths. Most of this violence was justified as a response to a demonic Soviet Union and “international communism” threatening “the free world.” The defense of the “free world” usually was fought out in the Global South. In fact, in the twentieth century the vast majority of victims of the capitalist war system were people of color, primarily non-combatants. And adding to the direct human cost have been the devastation of the land, the extraction of basic resources, and the destruction of viable communities and self-sustaining social systems.

Impacts of the Capitalist War System in Imperial Statesp&j2

Foreign policy has always been inextricably connected to the struggles for social and economic justice; including worker and human rights. And, as a consequence, foreign policy has always been used as a tool to distract, divide, and cloud the consciousness of working people everywhere. Eugene V. Debs, leader of the Socialist Party and four-time candidate for president of the United States, was jailed for his speech in Canton, Ohio decrying United States participation in World War I because of its profoundly negative consequences for the working class at home.

Debs pointed out that American “democracy” allowed no real opportunity for workers, the people who fought its wars, to determine whether to go to war or not. Workers were not allowed to hear and read all about the consequences of military participation. Before and during World War I, the United States government created a propaganda arm, The Committee on Public Information, to disseminate information to the citizenry promoting the United States entry into the war in Europe. Opponents of the war, such as Debs, were silenced. It was during the war that the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia and began to establish an alternative to the capitalist war system. President Wilson and his Secretary of State Robert Lansing warned of the danger of this threat to “democracy” and “freedom.”

As Debs implied, the capitalist war system needed impressionable military recruits to fight the wars in the name of a higher good while banks and corporations expanded their presence on a worldwide basis. But the capitalist war system which recruited foot soldiers also required the accumulation of money capital to pay for the wars and the capacity to develop “connections everywhere.” And after the second world war, during the Cold War, trillions of dollars have been wasted on the establishment of a worldwide network of military bases and outposts; troop deployments; space, drone, aircraft, and nuclear technologies; and a security apparatus that has its electronic and personnel tentacles in virtually every other country.

In addition, the development of a military capability to maintain and expand the capitalist system became a profitable business in its own right. What President Eisenhower called “the military-industrial complex” is a dense network of profitable connections between huge corporations, banks, universities, think tanks, and manufacturing facilities in virtually every city, town, state, and most importantly, Congressional District. The United States after World War II created what Andrew Bacevich, international historian, called a “permanent war economy.”

Economic Consequences of the Capitalist/War System

Dr. Martin Luther King, in his famous speech at Riverside Church in New York City, spoke of the devastating consequences of the Vietnam War on the Vietnamese people and the poor and oppressed at home. To him, the carnage of war not only destroyed the targets of war (their economies, their land, their cultures) but the costs also misallocated the resources of the nation-states which initiated wars.

Every health and welfare provision of the government, local, state, and federal, was limited by resources allocated for the war system. Health care, education, transportation, jobs, wages, campaigns to address enduring problems of racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental revitalization, and non-war related scientific and technological research were reduced almost in direct proportion to rising military expenditures. Over half the US federal budget goes to military spending past and current.  And the irony is that the money that is extracted from the vast majority of the population of the United States goes to military budgets that enhance the profits of the less than one percent of the population who profit from the war system as it exists.

“I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam.” Since 1967 when he made that speech, Dr. King would surely have added a long list of other wars to the Vietnam case: wars in Central America and South America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. and the more than 1,000 bases and outposts where US troops or hired contractors are fighting wars on behalf of capitalist expansion. Meanwhile the gaps between rich and poor people on a worldwide basis have increased dramatically with some twenty percent of the world’s population living below World Bank defined poverty lines.

The Meaning of the Capitalist/War System for Today’s Progressive Movements: Bringing the Peace Movement Back In

Paradoxically, the left and progressive forces in the United States are intuitively aware of the points long ago proclaimed by Marx, Debs, and King. Libraries are full of analyses and data that corroborate the basic arguments made above. But the recent resurgence of a new socialist left and an energized progressive majority, have not developed analyses and programs that make the necessary connections between capitalism and human misery at home and the war system abroad.

First, discourse on the left has been derailed by an overzealous concentration on alleged connections between Russia and the outcome of the US election. Mountains of hyperbolic allegations about the alleged source of evil, Vladimir Putin, have led the media (and many progressives) to channel foreign policy discussion away from military budgets, bombings of Syria, sending more troops to Afghanistan, covert operations in Latin America, reversing steps toward normalization of relations with Cuba, to a renewed Cold War with the successor state to the Soviet Union.

Second, many grassroots activists, seeing the need to target their energies to local and state politics, and single issues nationally, have taken the view that adding foreign policy to the agenda, complicates movement building. In fact, the exciting campaign of Bernie Sanders also dealt only marginally with foreign policy. And Sanders mostly spoke of foreign policy when his opponents, including the Hillary Clinton campaign, raised questions about his visits to Nicaragua and Cuba in the 1980s. In retrospect, it seems obvious that progressives should link the possibility of a financially sustainable health care system or free tuition for college to reductions in military spending.

Third, progressives have tactically avoided pressing and necessary conversations about the past and present, and how a progressive United States government could participate in the future international system. For example:

There needs to be a serious discussion of twentieth century socialism: both governments and movements. Sectors of the left in the United States have been unwilling to have a textured analysis of the strengths as well as the weaknesses of socialist regimes, what some refer to as “really existing socialism,” and how distortions of those systems were connected to US imperialism.

There needs to be a serious conversation about twenty-first century developments in Cuba, Vietnam, China, the state of Kerala in India, and what remains of the Bolivarian Revolution in Latin America. As long as such conversations are avoided, the progressive base will be diverted by the twentieth century trope about the “evils of communism.”

There needs to be detailed analyses of military spending. Much of that work is being done by the War Resisters League, The Cost of War Project, and others, but little of it finds its way into grassroots campaigns for progressive politicians or campaigns in support of single-payer health insurance.

Finally, there is a need to address important questions not often discussed. Two stand out: first the doctrine of the inevitability of war which cripples everyone’s political consciousness; and second, the celebration of grotesque violence in popular culture. These are not abstract issues that belong only in the classroom or the church sermon. They need to be highlighted. And the writings and speeches of Marx, Debs, and King would support the view that assumptions about the inevitability of war and the glories of violence are intimately connected to the capitalist/war system.

In short, the emerging socialist movements, the burgeoning progressive campaigns, and the peace movement must reconnect in fundamental ways: theoretically and practically.War, the preparation for war, and human misery everywhere are inextricably connected.

Xi, Trump and Rising China in the World

Posted by Janet Tuckers on June 24, 2017 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

Xi, Trump and Rising China in the World

by Duncan McFarland
Center for Marxist Education, Cambridge Mass. (June 2017)

The Chinese Communist Party will hold its Nineteenth Party Congress in Fall 2017. Held every five years, the congress makes important decisions about leadership and policy. The course of China-US relations is one important issue as China seeks to work out a relationship with the new Trump administration, whose rhetoric was at first harsh but then moderated. However, the longer term US policy towards China is not clear but will include both competition and cooperation; China’s history will help shape its response. Another important program for China this year is the huge One Belt, One Road initiative of economic development projects in Asia, East Europe and East Africa, with major Chinese funding. Education is key as the US Left and progressives should work for peace and friendship with China and oppose the US military buildup in East Asia, seeking dialogue and not confrontation. China is again reaching out to socialists worldwide.

Trump and China

The US-China relationship is one of considerable global importance on several levels: political, economic and the situation of socialism and the international working class. Trump in his presidential campaign adopted a very hostile anti-China tone. However, after Trump assumed power, he changed; his actions towards China proved largely a continuation of established policy. Why did this happen? What are the prospects for the future of the relationship?

Trump is his campaign elevated the now standard anti-China rhetoric of both Democrats and Republicans to a new level of belligerence. He blamed China’s supposed cheating approach to trade for swindling the US, resulting in huge trade deficits and job loss. Trump said he would declare China a currency manipulator on his first day of office and spoke of applying a 45% tariff to Chinese goods. Shockingly, he took a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and referred to the one-China policy, the foundation of US-China relations for 40 years, as a “bargaining chip.” Rex Tillerson, the nominee for secretary of state, said China should be denied access to its new installations in the reefs and small islands of the South China sea, suggesting possible military conflict. If implemented, this approach would have yielded a rapid deterioration in US-China relations.

However, after the new administration took office, much of this changed. The one-China policy was reaffirmed and Chinese President Xi Jinping then agreed to receive a phone call from Trump. After review, the US announced that in fact China was actually not a currency manipulator. There was less chance of military confrontation in the South China sea. US withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership reduced economic pressure. Secretary of State Tillerson during a visit to Beijing dropped the anti-China talk and even repeated some of Xi Jinping’s favorite rhetoric, calling for cooperation, nonconfrontation and mutual respect. Xi visited Trump in Florida in April and the talks seemed reasonably cordial with Xi proposing a 100-day process to overhaul the US-China trade relationship and inviting Trump to visit China soon. The US did bomb a Syrian air base in the middle of the two-day meeting and rushed to install an anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea. However, Trump seemed mostly concerned with pressuring China to adopt harsh sanctions against North Korea.

Why did the new US administration moderate its position? US capitalism-imperialism since the 1980s has been ambivalent in its attitude towards China. While all sectors of capital want to see counter-revolutionary regime change in Beijing leading to us US-compliant government, strategies are different. With the expansion of China’s private sector in the 1980s, US corporations have made big profits in China and many companies like Boeing, Apple, GM and Ford have major commitments. Wall Street banks seek to penetrate Chinese markets. This section of US capital supports normal relations to pursue their lucrative business interests and wants to avoid war; their strategy is soft power. They think that Western liberal values and practices like democracy, human rights, freedom of speech, direct elections and consumerism will appeal to youth, grow a new middle class and undermine communism. The US role is to support Chinese elements who will oppose and eventually topple the Communist Party of China and institute Western-style political institutions.

Other sectors of US capital, however, see a rising Chinese colossus as the fundamental threat and obstacle to US global hegemony. This group focuses on long-term strategic considerations, is more ideological and less concerned with immediate corporate profits. It backs the “pivot” to Asia or encirclement of China with bases and alliances. US support for reviving militarism in Japan and installation of the THAAD anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea are elements of this approach. Peter Navarro, head of the White House trade council, advocates the “America first” version of this strategy; his books include “The Coming China Wars” and “Death by China.” Trump apparently was influenced by Navarro during his campaign but more moderate influences emphasizing continuity — perhaps his son-in-law Kushner — seemed to have gained favor since the administration took power.

The Chinese government has adopted a wait-and-see attitude towards Trump, responding not to his talk but to his actions. President Xi is willing to negotiate trade but will not change his position on core issues bearing on national sovereignty. China, wanting to de-escalate military tension in the Korean peninsula, will work with the US if possible to do so; but the longer range situation dealing with the new administration is not clear.

Roots of China’s foreign policy

To understand China’s foreign policy, it is necessary to know some basic history. China was for many centuries the dominant power in East Asia. This changed in 1839-42 as British naval power defeated China in the First Opium War beginning the “century of humiliation.” China subsequently lost a series of wars to Britain, France and Japan and lost control over its coastal seas, culminating in the US Seventh Fleet asserting control over the Taiwan Straits in 1949, thereby enabling Jiang Kaishek to take power in Taiwan. Today, China feels it is reasserting its traditional position in the South and East China Seas, important for national security. Tensions have decreased in 2017 as Asian countries are moving towards negotiations and avoiding confrontation, but China’s neighbors are very aware of the long history of Chinese regional domination.

Twists and Turns in the People’s Republic

During the 1930s and 1940s, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai repeatedly expressed the desire to have friendly relations with the US, and welcomed Americans such as the journalist Edgar Snow and Canadians like the physician Norman Bethune. But with the Korean War in 1950, Chinese troops fought the US in bitter warfare. China allied with the Soviet Union and Mao described the nuclear-armed US as a “paper tiger.”

China’s foreign policy has long been based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, jointly issued with India in 1954 and adopted by the Bandung Conference in 1955 and the non-aligned movement: 1) mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, 2) non-aggression, 3) non-interference in internal affairs, 4) equality and cooperation for mutual benefit, 5) peaceful coexistence.

Major policy disputes led to the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s. Eventually China emerged from its relative isolation during the Cultural Revolution to advance its “Three Worlds Theory” in 1974. This targeted both US imperialism and “Soviet social-imperialism” and positioned China as leader of the Third World. However, China’s strong anti-Soviet stance often led to alignment with US strategy and led to confusion in national liberation and left wing movements.

Deng Xiaoping, taking power after Mao’s death, adopted the “crouching tiger” approach — lie low, build up strength, don’t take leadership. This was the period of rapid industrialization and expansion of trade based on low-wages, exports and encouragement of foreign investment to access foreign markets. Paramount was the need to build a strong economy and advanced technology. Friendly relations with Japan and the West were the priority at the beginning, although eventually China became a huge trading partner with many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Thus Chinese influence grew because of its economic clout.

The speed of this expansion was facilitated by China’s “no strings attached” trade and investment policy that makes no political demands on developing countries, in contrast to the IMF, World Bank and Western countries which pressure for neoliberal policies, structural adjustment and austerity budgets. Former colonies in particular appreciate the opportunity to do business on these terms, an application of the “non-interference” point of the Five Principles.

Today, “crouching tiger” has been replaced by “China’s peaceful rise,” introduced by President Hu Jintao in 2005. Beijing wants a peaceful global environment to enable its continued economic and social development. China opposes hegemony and supports the trend towards a multi-polar world. This means commitment to multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, the G77 plus China, the G20, the Shanghai Cooperation organization and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

Premier Li Keqiang, at the National People’s Congress in March 2017, said, “China is ready to join hands with the international community and build a new type of international relations based on cooperation and mutual benefit and make new contributions to building a community of shared future for all humankind.” This means upholding global multilateral institutions and pushing economic globalization to be “more inclusive, mutually beneficial and equitable.” President Xi Jinping has called for a new type of “win/win diplomacy” among countries where cooperation is primary and relations based on mutual benefit. Increasing globalization is is the long term trend but it must be inclusive and not controlled by corporate interests.

Thus China’s foreign policy is based on lofty ideals, which overlap with peace movement sentiment. Like most developing countries and people of the world, China wants economic and social development, not war. Peace/antiwar activists should examine the implementation of this policy in both its accomplishments and problems.

Rising China’s new economic initiatives

The new Chinese-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was boycotted by the US but most Asian and European countries, including the U.K., are participating. The bank is helping finance a major new international economic effort: the “Belt and Road,” an ambitious centerpiece of Xi Jinping’s international program. Launched in 2013, this plan includes large-scale cooperative development and infrastructure projects involving dozens of countries in Southeast and South Asia, and west to Central Asia and Russia, to the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the east coast of Africa. Fifteen Chinese provinces are also working on the transportation, energy and trade projects. Favorable financial terms are extended through the Silk Road Fund and the AIIB. At an international meeting in May, Xi announced $100 billion funding of projects with eventual total investment projected at one trillion dollars. The Belt (overland through central Asia) and Road (new maritime silk road leading from Southeast Asia across the Indian Ocean) if successful will considerably strengthen China’s international economic influence as well as bolster development in China’s poorer interior provinces. And the Belt and Road is only part of China’s huge program of investment in the developing world.

Military modernization

The Obama administration initiated the “pivot” or rebalancing to Asia-Pacific, often seen as a strategy to thwart a rising China. China is modernizing its military with a new emphasis on coordinated air and sea operations and ability to fight and win local high-tech wars. In part, this is a response to the US military buildup. China is also modernizing its arsenal of nuclear weapons, which consists of about 300 nuclear warheads and long range ballistic missiles. The Chinese have a no first strike policy and advocate nuclear disarmament; however, China also feels that the largest and most aggressive nuclear superpower, the United States, should take the lead in the disarmament process. China has just one overseas base, a refueling station in Djibouti to help with patrols against pirate ships off the coast of East Africa. The Chinese have no formal military alliances although in recent years there have been large scale joint military exercises with Russia. China has a great deal of pride in its space exploration program to eventually reach the moon and Mars.

China and Climate Change

China is a signatory and strong supporter of the Paris Climate agreement. The Chinese join the Group of 77 in calling to broaden the scope of containing global warming to include considerations of historical responsibility for pollution and compensation for damage to the environment, and financial support from developed countries for green technologies in poorer countries. While still the world’s number one emitter of greenhouse gases, and plagued with a bad smog problem in major cities, the Chinese have been gradually reducing their dependency on coal and have committed to generating 20% of their energy from renewable resources by 2030. The government invests in renewables on a large scale and the country has the world’s biggest installation of solar and wind energy. Solar panels are manufactured with greater efficiency and lower prices for global export. Many feel that China will have an opportunity to be a world leader in fighting climate change especially as the US Trump administration has backed out of the Paris agreement; for example, California Governor Jerry Brown visited Beijing in June, met President Xi and signed an agreement for cooperation in low carbon technologies.

Domestic shifts

Shifts in domestic policy also affect China’s outlook on the world. China today has a mixed economy, with socialist and capitalistic sectors moving in the direction of more socialism, led by the Communist Party. The move towards strengthening socialism has been pronounced since the 2008 global recession. While growth has slowed, this is in part deliberate, due to the shift to a different economic model, the “new normal.” Moving away from an export-oriented, low wage strategy, China is now developing a more mature, innovation driven, service oriented economy; emphasis is on building domestic consumption and government services as drivers of growth and not manufacturing for export. China still refers to itself as in the first or primary stage of socialism, planning to achieve a moderately well-off society by 2021 and a developed socialist country by 2049.

Politically, 2017 is an important year as the communist party will convene its 19th congress in the Fall; this is a time of political maneuvering as the new leadership group is elected. Xi Jinping, recently named as a “core leader,” appears to be in a strong position. Under Xi, politics have shifted to the left, from a Western viewpoint; for example, there is more discussion of core socialist values, emphasis on Marxism-Leninism in education and critique of bourgeois Western influences. The leading role of the Communist Party has been affirmed. In foreign policy, Xi’s orientation has tilted toward the developing world and Russia, rather than accommodating the West and Japan for export markets.

The anti-corruption campaign

Former Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao, at his 2012 speech summing up ten years in office, identified problems within the communist party itself as the biggest threat to the Party’s support among the people and thus continuing in power. In addition to illegal activities such as bribery and nepotism, there are serious problems of bureaucratism and arrogance, and excessive perks among officials — all resented and thus creating a gap between the Party and the people. Soon after taking office in 2013, Xi Jinping launched a popular anti-corruption campaign targeting both “tigers and flies.” Numerous corrupt officials have been prosecuted. For example, Zhou Yangkong, former member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, China’s most powerful political body, was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for taking bribes.

Xi Jinping, at a high level meeting in Feb. 2014, stressed the importance of “core socialist values” as the ideological and moral foundation for China (Xinhua, 2/25/14). Emphasized at the 18th Party Congress in 2012, there was concern that China had lost its moral compass during its three-decade economic boom, as corruption, alienation and other social problems intensified, with increasing individualism and crass consumerism. At a Dec. 2016 conference in ideological and political work in China’s colleges and universities, President Xi strongly reaffirmed the supremacy of Marxism and socialism in Chinese institutions of higher learning. The greater emphasis of Marxist teachings has led to greater funding for research bodies such as the Academy of Marxism of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

China’s rising: unique in the world

China is a unique country: a 4000 year old civilization with 2000 years of feudalism giving way to both democratic and socialist revolutions in the 20th century, followed by a historic program of rapid industrialization. Today, China still has the world’s largest population and industrial working class, and an 89-million member communist party. China’s continuing rise is one of the most important features of the 21st century looking forward. Lives of Americans are impacted not only by Chinese made products but also by growing job producing investments. Chinese companies now own billion dollar enterprises such as AMC theaters, GE appliance division, Motorola mobile phones, Smithfield foods as well as New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Jobs are provided for about 100,000 Americans.

China rose from the relative isolation of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s to the world’s largest trading country today, as measured in total value of imports and exports. One of the largest recipients of foreign direct investment starting in the 1980s, China is now the largest source of investment funds in the developing world, surpassing the World Bank and western institutions. Its military modernization is beginning to challenge US dominance in its coastal regions. Chinese influence in international relations is also increasing with an activist orientation in the United Nations, the Paris Climate Accord and international bodies such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Founded in 2001, the SCO is an Eurasian political economic and security organization; with India and Pakistan joining in 2017, the SCO now represents about half the world’s population.

China is also rebuilding a center for the world’s working class parties. For example, the World Socialism Forum is held in Beijing in October. The World Association for Political Economy in Shanghai publishes the World Review of Political Economy and organizes international conferences; the 2017 conference is in Moscow. Xi Jinping’s “The Governance of China” was published in English and distributed in US bookstores, and exchange visits by Chinese Marxist scholars are more frequent. In addition, a series of Confucius institutes around the world promote Chinese culture and language at colleges and universities.

Education needed

China is not well understood by the Left, progressives or the US general public. US mainstream media, quite positive in the 1980s when the government was expanding the private market, is now mostly one-sided and negative during a period when socialism is strengthening. A balanced perspective is needed, telling both sides of China’s complex and often contradictory reality. Socialists and communists too need to study socialist construction from the Chinese perspective. A critical part of understanding is to read the Chinese press as well as western coverage to get a balanced, and more complete and accurate picture. When government relations are uncertain, people-to-people contacts assume great importance, such as study tours, exchanges and cultural activities.


The pursuit of dominance by US imperialism in the context of declining capitalism will sharpen global class contradictions and tensions with the developing world. Capitalist United States could directly oppose the People’s Republic of China, the product of a socialist revolution. The Pentagon a few years ago created a contingency plan for war with China, called “air/sea battle.” Such a war is considered quite possible by those who favor US hegemony and see China as the main obstacle. Such a war would be a disaster for the US, leading to economic dislocation and political repression. The Left and progressives should work for peace and friendship with China as a basic part of a democratic US foreign policy. Socialist and working class organizations should actively pursue international contacts. We should oppose militarism at home and abroad, cut the military budget, and support international cooperation such as the Paris peace accord and building a multipolar world. There are vast possibilities for mutual exchange which would enrich Western, Chinese and world civilization. The arc of history bends towards justice — there will be a better world!

United and Popular Front: Lessons from 1935-2017

Posted by Janet Tuckers on June 6, 2017 under Strategy | Be the First to Comment

United and Popular Front:
Lessons from 1935-2017

By Paul Krehbiel

Donald Trump won the presidency in November 2016 on promises of jobs, coupled with appeals to those swayed by racism, nationalism, and misogyny. He also promoted the undermining of human rights, advocated expanding corporate power, appealed to white workers while pushing anti-working-class policies, scapegoated immigrants and Muslims, promoted militarism and the erosion of democracy, and championed authoritarianism. A number of scholars have written about many of these characteristics in politics, such as Robert Paxton and others, as they were key elements of fascist regimes that came to power in Europe after WWI, especially Mussolini in Italy in 1922, and Hitler in Germany in 1933. Some people today are asking, “Is Trump a fascist, and will he bring fascism to the US?” While Trump’s actions aren’t nearly as brutal as Hitler’s and Mussolini’s in the president’s early days in power, it’s still too early to tell. But Trump’s statements and actions have alarmed people from all walks of life. And history has shown that a country can turn to the right very quickly.

Millions of people are protesting Trump’s ascension to power, beginning with the powerful Women’s Marches the day after Trump assumed office. Street demonstrations, rallies, mass Congressional phone calls and town hall meetings, and much more have continued since. Discussions abound regarding how best to build this resistance movement. While we can learn from many sources, the success of the United Front and Popular Front strategies of the 1930’s and beyond provide important lessons for us today.

The United Front and Popular Front strategy was developed by Georgi Dimitrov, leader of the Bulgarian Communist Party and a leader of the Communist International. Dimitrov presented his strategy at the Seventh Congress of the Communist International in 1935. He said that all working-class and socialist organizations should work together in a United Front to defend their interests, and to resist and fight to defeat and overthrow fascism. He then said this United Front should also promote the creation of a broader, Popular Front, that would be comprised of the forces in the United Front but would reach out to all other sectors of society that are against fascism, including capitalists who opposed it. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were arresting and killing targeted groups in their own countries, and invading foreign lands, waging war, and taking over other governments. They were rolling over traditional defense forces with lightening speed and power, some of whom simply surrendered in the face of vastly superior military power. Fear spread across Europe and beyond. This dire state of affairs led the Communists to develop a better, more comprehensive strategy for fighting and defeating fascism.

Fascism and the Crisis of Capitalism

Dimitrov described the roots and rise of fascism as a logical response, from the point of view of capitalists, to resolve the severe internal contradictions and crises within capitalism, reverse its falling rate of profit, and save the capitalist system from growing turmoil, chaos and threat of collapse or overthrow. The solution was to merge the most reactionary sectors of monopoly and finance capital with strong right-wing political and military forces. The goal was to stop capitalism from hemorrhaging assets and end all threats to its power and rule. It’s chief method was to cripple democratic institutions and working-class organizations such as unions that the working-class and the people as a whole had used to wrest concessions from capital in the past, which cut into capitalist’s profits. The result of imposing fascism was the further enrichment of select corporations and political groups, and their dictatorial control of the government, the economy, and the major institutions of society.

Today in the US we see the merger of right-wing political and corporate forces at the highest level of government, in the persons of billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump in the president’s office, with former CEO of Exxon Mobil Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as head of the Department of Defense, combined with extreme right-wing, neo-fascist media white supremacist and former Goldman Sachs banking executive Steve Bannon as Trump’s chief strategist and advisor, to name just four. While capitalism is not on the verge of collapse, it is wrought with growing internal contradictions and crisis that the ruling capitalist class finds increasingly difficult to resolve. Fascism is an attempt at a solution to this economic crisis.

This merger of corporate and extreme right-wing power are key elements in the construction of fascism. No one can predict whether the group around Trump will try to impose a fascist regime, or not. Nor can anyone answer the question, if the Trumpists move more decisively toward fascism will it be similar to Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy? If it happens, there could be features of Nazi Germany, or some other fascist or right-wing country, or develop its own unique forms of right-wing control. A major motivator for a greater turn to the right could be another major economic crisis. While there are some similarities between Trump’s group, and Hitler’s and Mussolini’s groups, there are also differences that should be recognized. It is not ordained that fascism will come to America. Much depends upon the size and scope and direction of the anti-Trump, anti-fascist resistance movement. There are good historical examples of mass movements that stopped fascism. One country that succeeded in the early 1940’s was Norway. Other countries overthrew fascist regimes and established socialism. There are enough warning signs within the Trump movement to cause concern, and impel us to plan for a sharper turn to the right.

Popular Front: Alliance of Necessity

Unfortunately, the leaders and major political forces in most European countries in the 1920’s and 1930’s, for the most part, weren’t prepared for the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, nor other right-wing dictators in other countries. Divisions and sectarianism on the left and within the ruling classes of many countries existed, as well as among other sectors of society, and there was an under-estimation of just how serious the threat was until it was too late. Much horror, suffering and the deaths of tens of millions resulted.

In 1939, the United Kingdom and France and other smaller states joined forces to fight Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan. France succumbed, but a left-led resistance organized a French underground anti-fascist movement. The Soviet Union joined the fight against the Nazi’s in June of 1941 after Germany invaded the USSR, and the USA joined in December 1941 after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Out of necessity the UK and the USA and smaller capitalist countries recognized that they had to ally with every country opposed to fascism, and that included the socialist Soviet Union. They put aside their anti-communism temporarily and joined forces, creating a Popular Front against fascism, exactly the kind of broad coalition the Communists had first proposed in 1935. The UK, USA and other capitalist countries also saw the necessity of creating a broad Popular Front domestically as well to mobilize and unite all forces in every society to build the greatest power possible to defeat fascism. Communists, socialists, and trade unionists worked together with major capitalists, including joining the military in capitalist countries to fight fascism. This strategy, and this strategy alone, was responsible for defeating fascism. Dimitrov’s strategy was published as a book, For a United and Popular Front. A similar broad front is emerging in the US in the resistance to Trump today, which is exactly what is needed.

Some on the left opposed the Popular Front strategy, believing that it meant selling out to capitalism and the corporate billionaires. When Dimitrov proposed his strategy to defeat fascism he did not intend that the working-class, the unions and the left give up their views, nor their independent organizations. Nor did the capitalists give up their support for capitalism. The Popular Front was a necessary temporary multi-class alliance to amass enough power to achieve a common goal: the defeat of fascism. The left, and especially the Communist Parties in many countries, including the US, pursued this strategy since Dimitrov’s 1935 speech. They did broad outreach everywhere, and helped build industrial unions, fought Jim Crow racism, and contributed to the defeat of fascism. As a result, the Communist Party USA gained a wider acceptance in society, and grew from less than 10,000 members to 100,000 members over the course of ten years. These same principles brought victories to the labor movement in the 1930’s with the organizations of powerful unions, the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, the anti-war movement during the war in Vietnam, the women’s movement, the LBGTQ movement, and more. The right always counter-attacked in an effort to stop progress or roll back gains that the people made. Too often history took two steps forward and one step back.

After fascism was defeated in 1945, the capitalist elite in the United States immediately turned against the left, domestically and internationally. In Greece, for example, the US capitalist class and their government supported the Greek capitalists and political right to crush a powerful Greek Communist-led movement for socialism. In the US, the US corporate elite and their right-wing allies launched a propaganda and action campaign to malign the Communists, socialists and other progressives by launching an anti-communist crusade that painted anyone left of center as a Communist. This right-wing movement purged Communists, socialists, progressives and strong-willed principled liberals from their unions, teaching jobs, from Hollywood and many other sectors of society. This was a part of capitalism’s overall ramping up of the Cold War to oppose leftism everywhere in the world. The attack was so ruthless that it wounded the left nearly everywhere. In the US even the broad liberal mainstream of society, most of whom supported capitalism, was retaliated against and weakened. Liberalism, in the eyes of this conservative ruling capitalist bloc, opened up society to a discussion of different ideas and different views, including leftist views. This was seen as a threat to their singular, right-wing philosophy and control of the world as they wanted to shape it. But even the most repressive conditions were successfully resisted. Fascist Italy was one such place.

Togliatti and Underground Organizing

Palmiro Togliatti, leader of the Italian Communist Party, developed a strategy to deal with extremely repressive conditions. He deepened the strategy to fight fascism inside Italy where unions were banned, democracy crushed, and repression ran rampant. Togliatti told Communist Party workers in a series of secret lectures conducted underground that they had to go where ever workers went. There were popular local clubs where workers went after work to drink beer and wine and socialize. The Fascist Party had come into many of these clubs, gave speeches, and put their fascist emblem on the door. Many Communist and other progressive workers stayed away, repelled by the fascist emblem and speeches inside. But Togliatti told the Communist workers that they had to go inside and socialize with the workers. Not everyone at these clubs agreed with the fascist program, Togliatti explained. Listen to what people talked about, how they reacted to news reports about Fascist activities, or Resistance activities, he told them. When a worker questioned a Fascist act, even quietly, sit with him and become friends. Listen and contribute to the conversation, helping the worker see other negative things about the regime that he may not have noticed. Help him make connections, advance his political consciousness, and when the time was right, agree to meet outside the club, privately for more in depth discussions. Eventually this led to recruitment into Resistance activities. Because the Communists adopted this method of work, after Mussolini was captured and executed and the Fascist government overthrown, the Communist Party came out of the underground as one of the strongest political parties in the country. Their reputation in building the resistance was very high, and they got elected to political offices in cities and towns across Italy in the post war period. Togliatti’s work was published in a book, Lectures on Fascism.

Bernie Sanders was Correct: Stop Trump

While we don’t have fascism in the United States as we go to press, there are lessons to be learned from these historical examples. When Bernie Sanders did not win the Democratic Party nomination, he endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. A number of Bernie supporters were angry and upset, and some felt betrayed. Others, including this Bernie supporter, argued that Bernie was correct by urging people to vote for Hillary, if only because Trump was much worse. Taking such a position does not mean that one supports everything Hillary stands for, such as her close ties to Wall Street and support for neo-liberalism, the fear that she may be too quick to go to war on inaccurate information and faulty arguments. The reality is that Trump is a part of the billionaire class, as Bernie called them, and his history and campaign abuses spelled a sharp turn to the right, and his policies would be harmful to many people on nearly every issue. Hillary, on the other hand, would have worked for some positive programs, based on her past, such as her history of helping children, and support for many social programs. While Trump isn’t a full-blown fascist as of this writing, the anti-fascist strategies of the 1930’s and 1940’s can guide us today, especially in building the largest possible front against the Trump-Pence-GOP-rightwing-corporate alliance.

Fortunately, the anti-Trump Resistance is pursuing this path today, reaching out to the broadest political forces if they oppose Trump even on one issue. Our Resistance movement is winning important victories: stopping of Trump’s ban on Muslim’s entering the country, the defeat of Trump’s and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s effort to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, Labor’s victory in stopping anti-labor Andrew Puzder from becoming secretary of the Labor Department, failure to force Mexico to pay for Trump’s counter-productive wall, and more. These victories came about because huge coalitions of people from all walks of life and all social classes came together to accomplish a common goal. These efforts parallel the victorious campaigns against the right and fascism 60 years ago. The lesson for today is clear: Unite the many to defeat the Trump cabal, while building the movement that can usher in an era of peace, equality, economic security, and justice for all.

Paul Krehbiel is a long-time trade union activist, former president of United Union Representatives of Los Angeles, a coordinator of Los Angeles Labor for Bernie, and is Co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.

US and North Korea: Three Steps to Peace

Posted by Janet Tuckers on May 13, 2017 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

US and North Korea: Three Steps to Peace (  5/8/17)

Statement of the Peace and Solidarity Committee of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

1) The United States immediately reduce tensions by ceasing threatening rhetoric and aggressive military posturing, and commit to a political resolution of differences.  This includes canceling the THAAD anti-ballistic missile system, a major escalation.

2) The United States agree to the Chinese and international proposal that the US and South Korea suspend joint military maneuvers and that North Korea suspend its nuclear weapons and missile program simultaneously.  This will de-escalate the crisis and allow for the resumption of the six-party talks for a nuclear free Korean peninsula.

3) The United States enter into direct negotiations with North Korea to sign a peace treaty officially ending the Korean War of 1950-53, and establish normal diplomatic and trade relations.


The United States in cooperation with China can easily improve the tense situation on the Korean peninsula by rejecting military action and adopting a policy of diplomacy and reconciliation.

Korea was annexed by Japan before World War I.  Then Korea was divided at the end of World War II as Soviet troops moved into the North and US troops into the South, prior to accepting the Japan’s surrender.   The people of Korea wanted and still want reunification. Kim Il Sung, the leader of the Korean Workers Party in the North, was also an outstanding leader of the resistance to Japanese imperialism and thus a national hero.  In any fair, democratic national election, it was clear that Kim Il Sung would be elected president of reunified Korea.  To prevent this and protect US interests, the US appointed Syngman Rhee as President of South Korea.

Rhee suppressed popular political opposition and launched border attacks on the North. North Korean responded with an all-out military assault in 1950.
US bombing of North Korea created massive destruction, nearly demolishing all of North Korea, and there were millions of Korean casualties in the war.  This ended in an armistice in 1953. There was no permanent peace treaty, because the US refused to negotiate directly with North Korea.

Today the North Korean government’s central demand is a peace treaty ending the war and recognition as an equal among nations.  In the 1990s, North Korea suspended its enriched uranium and possible nuclear weapons program in exchange for assistance with different types of energy production.  This cooperation ended in 2001 when the Bush administration labeled North Korea as part of the “axis of evil.”

The North Korean government has reasonable proposals to work towards peace and deal with the nuclear weapons issue.  However, as long as it is confronted with a hostile US retaining “all options” including pre-emptive and nuclear war, North Korea will continue to develop its military strength that it sees as self-defense.  If the United States drops its refusal to negotiate directly with North Korea and moves towards normalized relations, the crisis would be ended quickly.  The Korean people do not want war. The American people do not want war. It is up to realists and progressives in the United States to demand enactment of the three steps to peace.


Posted by Janet Tuckers on April 28, 2017 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

Labor Paeans—May 2017
By Ira Gruppernisson2

Publis300px-0grupperhed by FORsooth, newspaper of Louisville, Kentucky chapter of F.O.R. {Fellowship of Reconciliation]

The Ancien (Old) Régime ruled in France from the Middle Ages until the late 18th century, when the exploited folk began taking-care-of-business (double-entendre intentional). It is called the French Revolution, and it abolished feudalism and the nobility. A Reign of Terror lasted from September 1793 until the fall of Robespierre in 1794. Its purpose was to purge France of enemies of the Revolution, domestic and foreign, as in bye bye Marie Antoinette.
In a reverse twist today, as the rights of poor and working class people in the U.S. are rapidly eroding under Trump, the sometimes liberal, sometimes milquetoast recent Obama regime is missed, but not by the large number of immigrants the U.S. deported under his orders. Nor do we miss the hyper-imperialist war-hawk views of his former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton [Haiti (1994); Iraq (2002); Pakistan (2007, 2008); Afghanistan (2009); Libya (2011); Syria (2012)—ad nauseam].
The most reactionary sectors of the owning class seek to reverse gains made over the years in support of social and economic justice, and in opposition to racism, sexism, and war.
The greed is worldwide. Reports “Avaaz”:
“Elephants are being born without tusks — an extraordinary last bid to survive human cruelty and greed. We’re slaughtering these majestic beasts for ivory trinkets! But for the first time ever China just announced it’s shutting down its market. Now if we push Europe to follow suit we could end ivory forever.”
The U.S. fightback is encouraging, from the historic Women’s March, to the Democratic Party beginning to wake up (well, sort of). The struggle, by the UAW (United Auto Workers), to organize the huge Nissan automobile factory in Canton, Mississippi (6,400 mostly African American workers), is promising. A labor-clergy alliance is in support.
The union charged, in March, that Nissan Motor Co stopped workers from handing out literature outside a plant gate. As well, the company faces fines for safety violations in its Mississippi and Tennessee plants.
The close trade and economic relationship developing between President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could well be tested in this battle. Neither is a friend of the working class.
“Nissan became legendary in Japanese industry for crushing one of the country’s most militant unions. This happened in 1953 during a famous 100-day strike against Nissan. The company used the strike to break a powerful, left-wing union that was one of the most influential in Japan.
“The Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions (JAW), the union that took over, soon became a symbol of the company union-style of labor relations that can still be seen in certain Japanese industries today. Its website actually celebrates the dissolution of ‘Zen Jidosha,’ as the militant union was known.” (Tim Shorrock, In These Times). Is there a parallel with the crushing of the C.I.O. labor federation in the U.S. in the late 1940’s?nisson3
James Meredith, the first African American to graduate from the University of Mississippi, conducted a March Against Fear (alone) in 1966—and was shot. (I joined this march soon thereafter). In Canton, the marchers were greeted with cops firing huge amounts of tear gas. Will this happen again, in the same Canton, all these years later, this time at the Nissan factory?
Japan, China, Mexico and Germany have huge trade surpluses in relation to the U.S. How will the Nissan organizing drive impact this?
Misnamed Right to Work laws are preventing unions from organizing the unorganized. Here in Kentucky, we had been the only state in the South that was not a right-to-work state. Not any longer—and our state and city labor movements, in dire straits, are struggling to figure out how to get our act together.
Will the working class be able to push the labor movement into really effective action? Will we stand with the Muslim and Jewish communities in their fight against the Klan, Nazis and others?
Will we stand with the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance when it cries out: “The Trump effect is real; white supremacy is endangering our families and friends. We’re seeing more incidents of hate against communities of South Asian – or those perceived to be – descent. It’s clear that more than ever we need to resist, organize, and fight back against any and all attempts that put our lives at risk.”
Will we fight for single-payer healthcare (a song many decades ago is so painful: “When you’re too old to work and you’re too young to die.”)? Will we effectively protest the genius of an Arkansas state legislator, who wants publicly supported schools to exclude works of Howard Zinn? Why? Maybe because Howard wrote: “If you look at history from the perspective of the slaughtered and mutilated, it’s a different story.”
There is wonderful mobilizing going on in the U.S. today. But is there sufficient ORGANIZING? Will we be able to change company-union-style labor relations in a transition to class-struggle unionism? Stay tuned.
Contact Ira Grupper:


Posted by Janet Tuckers on April 19, 2017 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

Harry Targ

AlthoPeace-sign-peopleugh most progressives preferred a Hillary Clinton victory in the 2016 election, strong reservations about her candidacy existed because of her historic association with foreign policies promoting the globalization of violence, war, and covert operations in countries which challenged the neoliberal policy agenda. Candidate Trump made bold statements about avoiding escalation of United States involvement in Syria, staying out of the perpetual tensions on the Korean peninsula, pulling the plug on NATO, and opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Most of all Trump seemed to strike a rational chord with his call for improving relations with Russia.

The Trump campaign created concern among the two dominant foreign policy factions which have dominated United States foreign policy since the Reagan period: the neoconservatives and the humanitarian interventionists. The first group, particularly influential in the eight years of President George Walker Bush, argued that the United States was the world’s hegemonic power and it should use that power to transform the globe. Militarism should be the primary instrument of foreign policy, not diplomacy. The second group, primarily those affiliated with Presidents Clinton and Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton advocated a more selective use of military power, promoting neoliberal globalization through diplomacy and trade agreements, and covert interventions to destabilize regimes hostile to the global economic agenda of capitalism. Clearly, these two factions of the foreign policy establishment overlapped and both sought to promote global capitalism and imperialism. But their methods varied.

The Trump campaign foreign policy agenda was seen by both factions as a threat to the imperial project. It stressed economic nationalism, a more judicious participation in international affairs, and potentially to use the old hyperbolic label “isolationism.” Therefore, after Trump’s election, what some analysts called “the deep state”– foreign policy institResist-Trump-War-1080x541utions such as the CIA, NSA, DIA, FBI, leadership of both political parties, liberal and conservative think tanks, and the mainstream media–launched a campaign to embarrass Trump, primarily using loose charges of a Trump/Putin election season cabal. The pressure on Trump became so strong and so single-minded in the liberal media (particularly MSNBC) that Trump began a significant tactical shift in foreign policy.

After weeks of increasingly hostile rhetoric about Russia, President Trump launched a massive missile assault on targets in Syria (which took off the front pages an “erroneous” mass slaughter of civilians in Mosul one week earlier due to a “mistaken” US air attack). He adopted the deep state narrative that Syria had dropped chemical weapons on its population. He threatened more military action. The hostility was coupled with threats and counter-threats between representatives of the US and Russian governments. Trump escalated bombing of targets in Yemen, giving support to the Saudi driven war there. And during the week of April 12, the United States dropped a “mother of all bombs” on alleged enemy targets in Eastern Afghanistan. This bomb had the largest explosive power of any bomb used since World War II. In addition, the president and his vice president increased threats on North Korea, pledging military action if they test-fired new missiles and/or nuclear weapons. Trump sent an aircraft carrier group to waters adjacent to the Korean peninsula; another act of provocation. In addition, and below the radar screen of brutal violence, anti-government protestors in Venezuela mobilized to challenge the government of Nicholas Maduro. These so-called “dissidents” have among them activists on the payroll of the United States government. The campaign against the Bolivarian Revolution is being manifested in diplomatic and covert assaults against Bolivia and Nicaragua as well.

In sum, the new Trump administration has embraced a foreign policy that combines the worst aspects of the two factions of the foreign policy establishment, the deep state. He has shifted US policy to a militarism on high alert. He has returned to a posture that calls for the overthrow of the Assad regime in Syria. He has put war against North Korea on the table. He has continued the covert operations in Latin America. And he has joined the neoconservatives and humanitarian interventionists in a campaign to challenge the place of Russia in the international system. On this last point, Russian expert Stephen Cohen, warns that we are closer to nuclear war with Russia than at any time since the Cuban Missile crisis. And as he and British journalist Jonathan Steele point out, the arguments for the new militarism are based on no evidence of new danger.

The one card that remains unclear, and perhaps the best hope for avoiding global war is the resistance of other powers in the world. Trump’s meeting with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, in Washington and China’s role in efforts to forestall war in Korea remain unclear. Also representatives of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) met after the recent US attack on Syria to discuss a common response.

Without demeaning the centrality of the climate crisis, the title of Naomi Klein’s recent book, “This Changes Everything,” might be applied to the latest developments in United States foreign policy. New louder voices must be raised in the peace movement—and as part of every movement it is allied with—to Stop the Violence, Stop the War. In addition the clear connections between the $54 billion increase in military spending and the parallel cuts in non-military spending needs to be highlighted.

The famous clock of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has been moving toward midnight, total darkness. The peace movement must act now.



Capitalists intensify attacks, Resistance grows

Posted by Janet Tuckers on April 6, 2017 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

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Time of Day Briefing
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy & Socialism
by Randy Shannon

This report will discuss some context and focus on some important elements in the present conjuncture.
The capitalist class is unified in the drive to reverse the decline in the rate of profit that became critical in the 1970’s due to labor’s growing bargaining power. The capitalist class is pursuing four tactics to restore the profitability of their system of production relations – globalization, neoliberal austerity, financial speculation, and military expansion.

The economic, political, and social crisis that we now experience is evidence that the bourgeois solution to their crisis is a failure. The system has not recovered. There is no expansion of production, no revival of infrastructure investment, and the 1.1% annual increase in labor productivity since the Great Recession is the lowest in history.

The deepening crisis is emblematic of Gramsci’s analysis: “A crisis occurs, sometimes lasting for decades. This exceptional duration means that incurable structural contradictions have reached maturity, and that, despite this, the political forces which are struggling to…defend the existing structure…are making [persistent] efforts to…overcome [the contradictions]. These…persistent efforts form the terrain of the conjunctural and it is upon this terrain that the forces of opposition organize…any falling short before a historical duty increases the necessary disorder and prepares more serious catastrophes.”

The capitalists are now divided on how to proceed. The new dominant option is to double down on the exploitation of labor, destroy the regulatory limits on production, abandon the social safety net, and steal undeveloped natural resources. The former option is to profit from crises like global warming with limited new investment, invest in more automation, slowly erode the social safety net, and gain consent for intensified exploitation of labor and natural resources through trade agreements.

For the working class the unifying elements are the increase in exploitation of labor accompanied by an attack on unions, depressed wage growth, an intensified work pace, automation, and increasingly authoritarian management of the workplace. In the US 40% of the civilian labor force is out of the labor market and 15% of the employed do not have stable jobs.

These conditions are profoundly affecting the political consensus. Loyalty to the employer and the dominant culture is challenged by dismay at the tremendous disparity in wealth and income while millions struggle in poverty or on the edge of poverty. Consent to the leadership of the hegemonic block dominated by finance capital with labor and minority organizations as partners began eroding in the 1970s with the beginning of neoliberal austerity. Now the neoliberal bloc has lost control of the government apparatus. The Democratic Party, their effective agent of consent, has lost the trust of the progressive majority.

The inability of the center-left forces to organize political opposition to neoliberal austerity, globalization, and financial speculation allowed the far right to exploit economic anxiety using xenophobia, racism, sexism, and great power chauvinism to build an alternative political consensus. Although far from a majority, this far right consensus, helped by fraud at the polls, elected a far-right authoritarian government. The election outcome has shocked the financial elite and their partners in the Democratic Party, the labor movement, and the progressive majority.

The fledgling Sanders primary campaign, although unable to upset neoliberal dominance, articulated an opposition to the policies of neoliberal capital that can mobilize the progressive majority. The Sanders campaign also highlighted the inability of the left to field a competent team of ideological and practical organizers and activists. There was no left infrastructure either inside or outside the Democratic Party to wage an effective ground game or to guarantee that the votes cast for Sanders would be counted.

Likewise there was no left or liberal infrastructure in the Democratic Party that was willing or able to challenge the massive fraudulent elimination of African-American voters from the polls in numerous swing states, including Michigan and Wisconsin where their numbers exceeded Trump’s margin of victory.

The Trump administration immediately attacked the government infrastructure so that governance is in the hands of a few Wall St. and far-right loyalists constituting an authoritarian clique. The Republican attack on healthcare coupled with a massive tax cut for the wealthy and Trump’s budget proposal liquidating most social programs provided the shocked electorate with the first concrete issues.

We are in the midst of a building wave of social, cultural, and political resistance and opposition to the far-right agenda. The women’s march on January 21st was a mobilization of 3 million across the country raising numerous issues, but focused on equality and respect for women. This 3 million is one quarter the size of an effective mass counterweight to the authoritarian government, based on the research of Erica Chenoweth. The mobilization of 3 million was a remarkable achievement and a promising step toward the practical goal of 13 million nonviolent resisters.

The women’s march was followed by a broad mobilization of millions directed at the Congress to stop the destruction of Medicaid to pay for a tax cut for the rich. Again women were at the forefront. Daily Action, a political service that texts subscribers with a suggested political action for the day, was launched in December. Over 250,000 subscribers log an average 10,000 calls per day. A poll of these grass roots activists found that of the 28,000 respondents, 86% were women and over 60% were 46 or older. Almost 75% reported they planned to attend more protests. The growing activism and emergence of leadership of women in the resistance to the far-right and for a progressive agenda is a critical element in the development of the progressive majority.

The Sanders campaign has awakened the youth to the political reality and the necessity to work for change. Our Revolution has succeeded the campaign as an organization of 66,000 activists and a mobilization tool for even more. The critical element for the development of the progressive majority is the flood of young Bernie activists into Democratic Socialists of America – DSA. This is becoming a mass phenomenon that reflects the millennials’ negative assessment of US capitalism. DSA has become the base upon which the young generation seeks to build a left alternative to bourgeois politics. DSA is multi-tendency with a flexible approach to the struggle for political power. The mass development of DSA chapters across the country presents a critical demand for left resources to help build the organization into the left pole of US politics.

There are two levels of problems that we confront. One is the overall problem of developing an effective resistance and counter-attack against the far right that can mobilize 13 million nonviolent protesters. This problem can only be solved by arguing for a broad coalition of all the organizations in the progressive majority. The North Carolina Moral Monday coalition provides a model for solving this problem. The June 9the People’s Summit in Chicago is a step in this direction.

The upsurge is taking many forms. Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Black Lives Matter have seen new support and activism. #DemEnter, Progressive Democrats of America, Progressive Caucus formation in 18 state Democratic Parties, Indivisible, and many local groups are expanding size and impact as they fight for leadership of the Democratic Party. The path forward requires work to unite the new activists around a progressive agenda that focuses on concrete issues rather than personalities; unites different social strata; and builds solidarity with the African American, Latino, and Muslim communities that are targets of the xenophobic racists in the government.

A particularly difficult set of problems confront the trade union movement. The Trump regime and the Republican Congress will intensify capital’s war on the unions. The unions representing federal employees are fighting back. Across the country labor activists are supporting the many groups forming the resistance to Trump. Unions and Labor Councils are working in coalition with progressive forces. Key areas of labor involvement are protecting immigrant workers, fighting to raise the minimum wage, and protecting and expanding access to healthcare.

However, the unions’ defensive ability is compromised by the failure of the labor-management partnership, established in the 1950s, to serve the interests of rank- and – file workers. The labor-management partnership includes the political alliance of trade union leadership with the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. This has required the acceptance of the erosion of workers’ rights. This deal has demoralized and demobilized the mass of union workers and their friends. This trend resulted in the political blowback of 2016 in which 37% of union members voted for Trump, according to an AFL-CIO poll. The Building Trades Unions met with and praised Trump, while AFL-CIO Pres. Richard Trumka praised Trump’s reactionary State of the Union address to Congress. SEIU announced a 30% budget cut to deal with the anticipated assault on its members. As a top staff member of the USW said to me: “We feel that our members abandoned the union when they voted for Trump and the members feel that the union abandoned them when we supported Clinton because of the trade issue.” Labor is facing important internal and external challenges that must be successfully confronted for the power of the progressive majority to grow. Labor leadership must be at the core of a successful nonviolent movement of 13 million Americans.

Lastly the threat of nuclear war has accelerated since the second Obama Administration and is near a dangerous critical mass. The Trump administration is committed to carry out Obama’s $1 trillion nuclear escalation including a new level of nuclear threat to Russia with an ABM system in eastern Europe. This is accompanied by a simultaneous mobilization of the largest number of US troops, tanks, and war-fighting equipment into eastern Europe since World War 2. The US navy is also building up a fleet of warships in the Black Sea. The US is leading a boycott of the first session of United Nations talks on a treaty eliminating nuclear weapons, joined by Britain, France and 37 other countries. The left and the progressive majority must find a path of effective rejection of nuclear arms to guarantee humanity’s future.