Dear CCDS members and friends,
The CCDS Peace and Solidarity committee recommends the following concerning the ongoing horrific, criminal Israeli bombing of Palestine:
1) join or help organize one of the many local protests in the coming period,
2) call your Senator to oppose S. Res. 498 introduced by Lindsey Graham, which justifies the Israeli bombing as self defense,
3) lobby your congressperson to say, "No US aid to Israel," the billions of dollars are needed for jobs, healthcare and education at home, not killing Palestinians;
4) support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (CCDS resolution at 2013 national convention)
5) those wishing to donate funds to aid the Palestinian refugees may check out the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) which is calling on Israel to stop attacks on Palestinian civilians and civilian infrastructure. 47 UNRWA buidings have been damaged by Israeli airstrikes. http://unrwa.org
6) keep up-to-date by visiting the website of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, http://endtheoccupation.org
Below is an appeal direct from Palestine:
ACT NOW! AN URGENT APPEAL FROM PALESTINIAN CIVIL SOCIETY
We Palestinians trapped inside the bloodied and besieged Gaza Strip call on conscientious people all over the world to act, protest and intensify the boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel until it ends this murderous attack on our people and is held to account.
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Ruby Dee with Ossie Davis and their children.
Statement from the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
I have longed to see my talent contributing in an unmistakably clear manner to the cause of humanity. Every artist, every scientist, must decide NOW where he stands. He has no alternative. (Paul Robeson, Royal Albert Hall, June 24, 1937).
It has been one of my great blessings in life to work with two of the finest artists and activists. Ruby and Ossie served as a living example that one could be an artist and an activist, too: that one could be an artist and still deal with what it means to be a Black woman and a Black man in these United States. (Spike Lee quoted on NPR, June 12, 2014).
We used the arts as part of our struggle. (Ruby Dee in Jackson, Mississippi, 2006, cited in Mark Kennedy, “Ruby Dee’s Legacy of Activism, Acting Mourned,” Charletteobserver.com, June 12, 2014).
A powerful link in the chain of great African American scholars, artists, and activists from the twentieth century, Ruby Dee died June 11, 2011. Dee was born in Cleveland Ohio in 1924 and as a child was moved to Harlem. Growing up she studied romance languages at Hunter College, gravitated toward the American Negro Theatre in Harlem and began long collaborations with fellow actors such as Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, and her husband of 57 years, Ossie Davis.
She appeared in 50 films, 40 television shows, and 35 stage performances. She received numerous awards for these performances and as recently as 2008 was nominated for outstanding supporting actress in a motion picture, “American Gangster,” She was recognized by nominations for Screen Actors Guild and Image Awards in 2009 and 2010. Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis received Kennedy Center Honors Awards presented by President Clinton in 2004.
Ruby Dee came from that generation of artists who. inspired by Paul Robeson, believed that she had to take a stand for human liberation. She was an active supporter of anti-colonial struggles abroad and civil rights struggles at home. She was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She and her husband, Ossie Davis, were friends and collaborators in the struggle for the freedom of African Americans with both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King. Dee was a contributing editor to the great journal of African American thought, Freedomways.
Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis’ participation in peoples’ struggles were life-long. As recently as 1999 the couple was arrested at the New York City police headquarters protesting the brutal police shooting of Amadou Diallo. In addition, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were members of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) advisory board.
Ruby Dee, her husband, Harry Belafonte, and their mentor Paul Robeson articulated often their beliefs that there was a connection between the arts and politics and that the arts could serve as a weapon for social justice. In addition, these artist/activists believed that their engagement required combining struggles against the exploitation of the working class, the sexism of the patriarchal system, and institutionalized racism.
During her lifetime Ruby Dee was a participant and supporter of movements for human liberation. CCDS and all progressives everywhere will miss her determined activism and her artistry as an actress and poet.
Calls for Civilian Police Accountability Councils
By Pat Fry
In response to a national epidemic of police and vigilante killings, a two day “National Forum on Police Crimes” took place in Chicago, May 16-17. With some 250 people attending, the Forum called for legislation establishing a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) in Chicago and elsewhere.
The Forum was organized by the Chicago branch of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression on the occasion of the organization’s 41st anniversary. Founded in May 1973, the NAARPR developed out of the national and international campaign to free Angela Davis from a racist and politically-motivated frame-up. Over the years, numerous celebrated cases were won through the organizing efforts of the NAARPR including on behalf of the Rev. Ben Chavis, Joan Little, the Wilmington 10, and the Charlotte 3.
Concluding the two day Forum, a public rally with Angela Davis was held at the Trinity United Church of Christ with 1200 attending. In her address, Davis said mass incarceration and police killings stem from “structural and systemic racism rooted in the failure to fully abolish slavery.” Global capital expansion and its pursuit of profit, she said, fuel the prison-industrial complex. While money is spent on building prisons for profit, public education and affordable housing deteriorates, she said. Davis called for the abolition of prisons, disarming of police and freedom for all political prisoners held in U.S. jails from Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier to Chelsea Manning and the Cuba Five.
Frank Chapman who headed the organizing committee for the weekend’s events introduced Davis and talked about his own freedom from prison won through the efforts of the NAARPR in 1973. Chapman who is Field Organizer and Education Director for the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression said that the NAARPR is needed now more than ever and urged rally participants to join. Chicago and Louisville are the two branches of the NAARPR active today.
The Forum, held at the University of Chicago, opened with a panel discussing the various aspects of police crimes and the initiatives underway to end them. Lennox Hinds, founding general counsel of the NAARPR, framed the discussion and said “Police are legally permitted to use deadly force. They have access to firearms 24 hours a day, on-duty and off-duty. They are free to kill anytime they suspect someone is guilty.” Black and Latino people are the most likely victims in cities with populations over 100,000, he said, making police abuse a fact of life in African American and Latino neighborhoods.
Rob Warden of the Center on Wrongful Convictions said Chicago is “the false confession capital of the world.” Recantations by people who have given false testimony are routinely rejected by the courts,” he said. Warden called for adoption of a public policy to encourage recantations.
Bernadine Dohrn, Professor of Law at Northwestern University and immediate past president of the Children and Family Justice Center, urged support for a lawsuit that would make public all complaints of police misconduct. Of the 19,000 complaints filed of police misconduct, said Dorhn, only 18 led to a police suspension of a week or more. For 85 percent of complaints, police were never interviewed, she said.
Warden, Dohrn and others talked about the police use of torture to solicit “confessions,” citing the case of Jon Burge, a Chicago detective who was convicted of torturing more than 200 suspects between1972 and l991. The exposure of Burge’s crimes led Illinois Gov. George Ryan to impose a moratorium on the death penalty in 2000.
Panelist Jeff Baker, candidate for Alderman representing Chicago’s Southside 21st Ward, called for enactment of a Civilian Police Accountability Council in Chicago. The CPAC model legislation would establish a democratically elected authority with power to directly present evidence of police crimes to a federal grand jury.
Among the participants at the Forum were victims of police crimes and family members. Danelene Powell-Watts talked about her son, Stephon, who as a 15 year old autistic youth was killed by police in February 2012 because he held a butter knife. Powell-Watts is an autoworker and member of UAW Local 551 in Chicago. Members of her union local’s Solidarity Committee organized protests of the police killing of her son.
Mike Elliott who chairs the UAW Local 551 Solidarity Committee is also Labor Secretary of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Elliott was one of several Local 551 members who participated at the Forum, including at a Labor breakout where discussion centered on how to strengthen the labor movement’s role in building a national movement against police crimes.
Hatem Abudayyah, Executive Director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), highlighted rampant police profiling and harassment of Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities. A case in point is Rasmea Odeh, Associate Director of AAAN, who the Department of Homeland Security arrested in a politically motivated charge of giving false information on a naturalization application 20 years ago. Ms. Odeh faces a 10-year jail sentence with a trial set to begin June 10 in Detroit. Conference participants were urged to circulate a protest petition at (www.stopfbi.net).
Police violence against women was highlighted in remarks by Crista Noel who spoke about her friend, Rekia Boyd, who was murdered by police in March 2012 at the age of 22. Boyd was talking with friends when Chicago Police Det. Dante Servin approached the group and opened fire after allegedly mistaking a cell phone held by one of the youths as a gun. Noel launched a campaign for justice that led her to the United Nations where she filed a complaint before the UN Human Rights Commission. Responding to national and international pressure, charges were brought against the police officer, the first charged in a police murder in Chicago in decades. The case has yet to come to trial.
Nelson Linder, President of the NAACP branch in Austin, Texas, spoke about the increasing rate of racist police crimes in his city. In the four year period between 1999 and 2003, 10 of the 11 people who died at the hands of Austin police were African American or Latino in a city with an overwhelmingly white population. In 2004, said Linder, the Austin NAACP and the Texas Civil Rights Project invoked Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and filed a complaint detailing the systemic and widespread police misconduct of Black and Latino communities. The campaign led to demands that the U.S. Department of Justice cut off all federal money to the Austin Police Department.
Black Power Meets the Solidarity Economy
By Michael Siegel
A new political and economic model is emerging, and it is not appearing where we might suspect it would. In the heart of the South, in a city named after one of the most racist presidents in United States history, in a landscape that resembles parts of Detroit and other decaying industrial centers, an impressive intergenerational collection of community organizers and activists have launched a bold program to empower a black working-class community that 21st -century capitalism has left behind.
In the last two months, I have traveled twice to Jackson, Miss., first for the memorial of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, and most recently, between May 2 and 4, for the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference held at Jackson State University. On both occasions, I have been struck by the amazing individuals and families who have dedicated themselves to developing economic democracy in Jackson.
A Black Revolutionary Mayor in the Heart of the South
Jackson Rising is the brainchild of a coalition of local and national political forces, including the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), the Jackson People’s Assembly and Lumumba’s office. Part of the initial vision was for the conference to catalyze some of the mayor’s economic initiatives, including the goal of helping local workers win government contracts. Unfortunately Lumumba, who won election by an overwhelming majority in June, held office for only a brief period before dying Feb. 25 of unexplained causes.
That Lumumba won the election at all is a testament to his sustained radical human rights work and to the group of community organizers he worked with over many years. Even during his campaign for mayor, Lumumba made no apologies for his revolutionary background, including his commitment to the New Afrikan Peoples Organization (NAPO) and its claim to a homeland in the predominantly black regions of the South (described as the “Kush”), including broad swaths of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Lumumba’s history also included decades of experience as a civil rights and criminal defense attorney, with past clients including freedom fighters and political prisoners such as Mutulu Shakur, Geronimo Pratt and Assata Shakur.
Despite his radical background, Lumumba was embraced by the people of Jackson, where he had long been an active community advocate and youth mentor. Lumumba and MXGM also utilized innovative organizing tactics to activate the local population. They went door to door to recruit participants for the Jackson People’s Assembly, an independent formation that began as a response to Hurricane Katrina. The Assembly now meets quarterly to discuss community concerns and debate issues including participation in the U.S. Census and the curriculum in the Jackson Public Schools. Hundreds of residents have participated in the Assembly, and locals who are unaffiliated with Lumumba or MXGM lead working committees on topics such as economic development, education and public safety.
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Statement by the Cecily McMillan Support Committee
Justice for Cecily
May 19, 2014
Cecily McMillan Sentenced to Ninety Days Jail, Five Years Probation
Official Statement from her Support Committee
CONTACT STAN WILLIAMS | PRESS@JUSTICEFORCECILY.COM | 256.323.1109
After years of awaiting trial Cecily McMillan was sentenced this morning to a term of incarceration of 90 days on New York’s Rikers Island and a probationary term of 5 years for allegations that she assaulted NYPD officer Grantley Bovel. The following is the official statement of her support team:
Today, Cecily Mcmillan was sentenced to 90 days in prison for being sexually assaulted by a police officer at a protest, and then responding to that violence by defending herself. We all know that Cecily did not receive a fair trial and this case will be fought in the Court of Appeals.
The sentencing of Cecily McMillan has elicited an array of deeply felt responses from a broad range of individuals and communities, and it has also created a moment to think about what solidarity means. For many of us who consider ourselves to be part of the Occupy movement, there’s first and foremost a simple and deep sadness for a member of our community who has endured a painful and demeaning physical and sexual assault, and now has had her freedom taken away from her. And it’s painfully clear to us that Cecily’s case is not special. Sexual violence against women is disturbingly common, and there is a tremendous amount of over-policing and prosecutorial overreach by the police and the courts, enacted predominantly upon black and brown populations every single day, generation after generation.
On a broader level, there’s been a tremendous outpouring of public support in the wake of the verdict, for which Cecily and the team are truly grateful. We’re heartened, too, by the outrage this blatant, heavy-handed attempt to quash dissent has elicited from the public at large. The message this verdict sends is clear: What Cecily continues to endure can happen to any woman who dares to challenge the corporate state, its Wall Street patrons, and their heavy handed enforcers, the NYPD. We certainly think outrage is an appropriate response from economic and social justice activists and allies who are concerned about the silencing of those who push for change. The DA and the courts want to make an example out of Cecily—to deter us, to scare us, to keep us out of the streets. And we won’t let that happen. This ruling will not deter us, it will strengthen our resolve.
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Lexington, Kentucky and Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism lost a strong leader with the passing of April Browning. Her strong voice for justice and equality could be heard on many fronts, often the one holding the megaphone and leading chants.
April was born in Flint, Michigan but grew up in Central Kentucky. She understood first hand the struggle of low income parents in Kentucky. She understood first hand being denied right as a former felon for a mistake long past paid for. She understood the struggle of the 99% against the 1%. Because of all of this, she was committed to working for a socialist future.
April always put her beliefs into action. She was the inspiration behind and one of the founders of Occupy Lexington in 2011. She was passionate about the issues raised in the Occupy movement. As part of her work with Occupy, she led a “Mic Check” at local auction of foreclosed homes and a flash mob at a local Walmart. She loved being on the frontline.
April didn’t let her advocacy end when Occupy disbanded. She joined CCDS and continued working with comrades from Occupy to found Kentuckians Against the War on Women, lead two marches against Monsanto, and be a prime mover in local movement against a war with Syria.
Notably she was also spokesperson for the restoration of voting rights for former felons in Kentucky. Kentucky is a state that takes voting rights away for life if convicted of a felony. While fighting to change the law in Kentucky, April was also petitioning the Governor to get her rights back so she may vote for the first time in this year’s elections. In her own words, "I am politically active and I feel that my voice as well as thousands of other Kentuckians’ voices should be heard. … I’m fighting for progress across the board and this fight is personal.”
April and her partner, John Blickenstaff, both CCDS members, attended the CCDS Youth School and Convention last summer. Comrades from across the country sent messages to Lexington to express their remorse at the news.
Will Emmons, a Lexington CCDS member and participant in the school, said, “April was dealt a rough hand but sought to play it in a way that contributed to the liberation of humanity.” He stated he met her at the first CCDS meeting he attended in Kentucky. He said that when he met April and the other CCDS comrades he felt had “found the community of people here in Lexington who wanted to work for the things I want to work for.” He added, “Unfortunately, that community is a lot poorer today for the stupidly tragic loss of. . .April.”
While April was a committed revolutionary, she was also a dedicated mom. Whenever April’s made a speech about herself she began, "First and foremost, I’m a mom," In an interview with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth she said, "My son Elijah . . . makes every day worth living and special . . . That’s the first and most important thing you need to know about me." She went on to explain, "But after that, it’s really important to me to take initiative to make my community a better place – for Elijah and everyone else."
We mourn the loss of her leadership and activism but her spirit will remain with us as the struggle continues.
Statement of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
March 5, 2014
Sensational headlines in the U.S. of opposition protests in Venezuela amid escalating violence have dominated the coverage of the corporate mainstream media over the past three weeks. This is part of a multipronged strategy by the U.S. government and multinational corporations to destabilize Venezuela politically and economically and pave the way for another coup attempt as was the case in 2002 during the Bush administration. These same policies have continued with the Obama Administration despite denials that it is backing the opposition. Such denials lack credibility given the results of extensive investigative reporting on U. S. funding for and training of leaders of the Venezuelan opposition and recent leaks of extensive communication between U.S. officials and right wing opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez.
None of the mainstream media narrative accurately reflects the complex reality of Venezuela. U.S. news and analyses are routinely distorted, manipulated, and even manufactured to support the corporate media’s narrative which is that student-led protests have been violently repressed amidst severe government repression of speech and press in Venezuela. Anti-government protests that appear to engulf the country are in reality mainly in the wealthiest neighborhoods of Caracas.
According to a report by Mark Weisbot of the Guardian, there have been eight confirmed deaths but no evidence that they were caused by a repressive government crack-down. Actually a number of security officers have been arrested for crimes. And there has been random protestor-on-protestor violence, a far cry from a government policy of brutal force to squash dissent.
The mainstream media’s narrative also includes sensational distortions and misinformation regarding Venezuela’s economic situation. The economy is portrayed as being on the verge of collapse, due to bad policies and mismanagement of the Venezuelan government. The fact is that the government of President Maduro has continued the humanitarian “Bolivarian” policies of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, whose untimely death one year ago, is commemorated today, March 5th. Their government policies have reduced poverty dramatically and channeled the country’s resources to improve employment, education, health care and housing for the majority of Venezuelans.
Maduro’s government has won two national elections within the last year including 75 percent of municipal government offices two months ago. It is a legitimate, democratically-elected constitutional government. The policy of the U.S. government is an attack on democracy and constitutional government in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan government faces many political and economic challenges. The CCDS stands in solidarity with the heroic workers and poor of Venezuela as they tackle these challenges.
The CCDS joins with peace and justice organizations in demanding:
- An end to all U.S. government support, overt and covert, for the Venezuelan opposition as it constitutes an unacceptable and immoral intervention in the politics and economy of a sovereign nation
- An end to all covert efforts to sabotage Venezuela’s economy and cause suffering among the Venezuelan people.
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
March 15, 2014
A dangerous situation continues to develop in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. With no solution in sight, there is major tension with potential for long-term instability and war. Many protesters in the Ukraine’s Maidan Square understandably are demanding democracy, clean government and economic justice. The repression and use of force by the Yanukovich government was reprehensible. However, rightwing nationalists and fascistic groups gained leadership in the movement. With the backing of the European Union and U.S. neo-cons, attempts at compromise were thwarted and a coup was staged. Russia responded with military action to safeguard its perceived national security interests including its naval base in Crimea, and is thus supporting a Crimean referendum to secede from the Ukraine.
The Obama administration, confronted by U.S. involvement engineered by Bush appointed State Department officials, sided with the neo-cons to back the new Ukrainian regime. Thus the president greeted the coup-installed Prime Minister Yatsenyuk on March 12 at the White House in a highly publicized meeting. The U.S. increased its military maneuvers on Russia’s borders and is threatening visa restrictions, economic sanctions and various other ways to isolate Russia.
The Obama administration immediately proposed a billion dollar aid package for the new government, even as U.S. cities and pensions are going bankrupt and food stamps cut. U.S. energy companies savor the thought of huge deals to supply Western Europe with newly fracked natural gas if Russian supplies are cut. The IMF is contemplating various sorts of structural adjustment in the Ukrainian economy to benefit the rich. Meanwhile, there is no sign of Russia backing down or a resolution to the crisis.
Thus, the Obama-led centrist Democrats formed a block with right-wing Republicans and neo-cons. Anti-Russian propaganda is nearly universal in the mainstream media. Russia’s response has been universally condemned with no mention of the U.S.-European role in fomenting the illegal coup. Criticism of U.S. policy is confined to questioning whether the Obama response is too weak. These developments have increased the danger of war.The Progressive Democrats of America, however, issued a statement condemning US collaboration with fascist forces and thus split with the dominant US narrative.
After the collapse of the SovietUnion, the West pledged to respect Russia’s national security concerns, advancing NATO’s “not one inch east” statement. Breaking their promises, U.S./NATO incorporated one Eastern European country after the other into NATO and the EU. An anti-ballistic missile system was installed in Eastern Europe, ostensibly to stop an Iranian attack, but obviously targeting Russian missile systems. The Western attempt to bring Ukraine into its orbit transgressed Russia’s most important “red line,” according to Prof. Stephen Cohen, and the Russian reaction was entirely predictable.
The Ukrainian situation is a clear example of the U.S. “Deep State” (http://ouleft.sp-mesolite.tilted.net/?p=1682) determining foreign policy – a combination of financial, corporate and military-industrial interests, motivated by anti-communist and now neo-con ideology. Formed at the end of World War II, the Deep State is the actual power center of U.S. capitalism and imperialism. The Deep State has the loyalty of many key government officials and has been able to push its policies with various successes over the last few decades, regardless of what party wins national elections. Thus the Obama administration is not fully in control of its own foreign policy. Influential neo-cons within the Deep State are currently putting forward a far-right agenda in not only Ukraine but also in Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Japan and other places, trying to substitute confrontation and military action for diplomacy. The neo-con objective is to persist in constructing the so-called “new American century” of regime change not only in the Middle East but eventually in Russia and China to facilitate their long-term goal of U.S. global hegemony.
The U.S. peace movement was strong in responding to the Syrian crisis last summer, surging to stop war. However, the response to the Ukraine crisis has been slow.
This is due in part to the shifting strategy of U.S. imperialism from a strategy of invasion and occupation during the Bush years to covert and high tech operations today. How does the antiwar movement oppose a covert program that is all but invisible? Organizing a consensus response to the new imperial strategy of mainly covert operations is a major challenge to the peace and justice movement.
- No U.S. intervention in the Ukraine situation and no economic or military support for a government with major fascist participation.
- Support for negotiations, demilitarization and a peaceful resolution of a dangerous situation.
- Balanced and objective education to counter the rightwing mainstream narrative.
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
By Randy Shannon
The situation in the Ukraine is cause for concern. An additional cause for concern is the deliberate distortion and misrepresentation of events there by the US media. And this is a situation that calls for Americans to study some history really quickly.
What seems to have happened based on the US media is that a “revolution” against a brutal thieving government by democracy loving people has taken place. And the Russians are trying to “violate” the territorial integrity of the Ukraine.
What really happened is that Nazi sympathizers, Nationalistic, anti-Semitic, and anti-Russian forces long nurtured by the CIA and elites in the West took over a west Ukrainian city, broke into its armory and used the weapons to overthrow the Constitutional government. The President fled the capital and the country. The far right government immediately eliminated the Russian language as an official language of the state and sent armed militia into the Crimea to take over the security forces. The mayor of the capital of the Crimea and the President asked Russia to defend the regional government and the Russian people in the Ukraine.
A bit of history. The Ukraine Republic was created in 1954. The western Ukraine bordering on Europe was part of the Axis Powers during WW2. The eastern Ukraine was part of Russia. The Crimea was part of Russia. Russia agreed to cede Crimea and eastern Ukraine to make the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine. The regions ceded by Russia were mostly populated by Russians, and minority Ukrainians and Tartars. Russians were guaranteed their civil and human rights in the new Soviet Socialist Republic.
The usurper government consists of a coalition of fascist, nationalists, and far rightists backed by the US and European allies. Two of the main fascist groups are the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and the Svoboda Party (Social-National Party of Ukraine). The name Social-National Party of Ukraine is an intentional reference to Adolph Hitler’s National Socialist Party. The major social and cultural character of these fascist forces is hatred of Russia, Russian people, and the Russian language. The wealthy Ukrainians in the western part are descendants of the defeated Axis Powers. They have not accepted the defeat of fascism and feed this revanchist sentiment by blaming not Hitler, but Russia for their defeat. These revanchists have been nurtured by the CIA and similar forces in Europe.
The fascist-nationalist coalition has moved quickly to capture Ukraine in order to impose their economic dominance of the region. This serves two ends, first to immediately displace Russian economic interests in favor of their US patron. Also it furthers the objective of encirclement and subjugation of Russia and China by the US. The second objective was clearly mapped out by Zbigniev Brzezinski in his 1998 manual “The Grand Chessboard.” The Ukraine figures prominently in this strategy of conquest. As an aside, Pres. Obama, who must be one of the most well-read Presidents, made an interesting comment last week: "And our approach as the United States is not to see these as some Cold War chessboard in which we’re in competition with Russia."
Based on this history it is eminently logical that the Russians living in Ukraine fear for their civil rights, if not possible violence. After all, the fascist coup was heavily armed and killed numerous police. And it is to be expected that since Russian had handed them over to Ukraine under previous peaceful conditions, that these Russians would now look to their former homeland to protect them. As an ancient culture and very old nation, Russia will act to uphold the rights and lives of its citizens, especially after having sacrificed 12 million people in WW2 to defeat the parents of today’s Ukrainian fascists. The Russian occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine is the only choice available now that powerful western corporations and secret agents have backed a fascist coup.
These forces are now demanding that the US and European governments support and help consolidate the coup government. As in the 1930’s anti-Russian forces are being armed, encouraged, and legitimized. The American people should demand that the threats stop and that the coup be denounced, and the coup government boycotted.
The Obama administration should call for a restitution of the Constitution of the Ukraine. The February 20th agreement between the Ukrainian government and the right wing opposition should be restored. The President of Ukraine should return to Kiev with his life protected. The elections scheduled by the fascists in May should be cancelled and the regularly scheduled elections at the end of the year reinstated.
Randy Shannon is a CCDS bational committee member. A Statement by CCDS will be forthcoming.
Pete Seeger in Greenwood, Mississippi, 1963
FROM PEGGY SEEGER: “As most of you will know by now, my beloved brother Pete died peacefully, surrounded by close family members, at the Presbyterian Hospital (Columbia), New York City, on January 27th at 9:17 pm. His daughter Tinya, who had been caring for him for some time, was lovingly holding his hand. I was still in mid-air making a frantic attempt to get there from New Zealand. I arrived four hours too late. I take solace from our last phone calls where much was said but unspoken. I know many of you will be saddened by Pete’s death but we must remember that he led a very full and productive life. He leaves a prodigious body of work for us to enjoy, a legacy the enormity of which will continue to grow. He touched so many people’s lives, from children to the golden oldies like myself. As for me, I have lost the last person who has known me from birth and who has always been there for me. I cannot express how heavy losing Pete lies with me. My thanks to all for your kind and thoughtful condolences.
FROM CARL DAVIDSON: CCDS leader Jay Schaffner composed this summary of Pete’s life for his 80th birthday, and Pete only added more in this tradition in his last years, Even as his voice weakened, his message and spirit were strong to the end. We all knew that at the age of 94, this day was coming. Still the news pierced all of our hearts with dismay. Let us stand at attention and raise a fist in salute. A great man has passed, one who touched all of our lives, and will continue to do so.
I Remember Pete Seeger – A Tribute on his 80th Birthday
Pete Seeger – People’s Troubadour, Folk Singer, Clarion for Civil Rights, Labor and Peace, Pioneering Environmentalist, Socialist
Remarks of Jay Schaffner at Evening to Honor Pete Seeger on his 80th Birthsay- Nov. 12, 1999
Brothers and Sisters
I am very happy to welcome you to tonight’s program on behalf of the New York Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. It is a real treat to be here to be able to learn from and celebrate with Pete Seeger on his 80th birthday. I guess I should let people in on a little secret – growing up as a child of the 1960s, as a product of the 1950s, of that breed now known as “Red Diaper” babies, I was weaned on the music of Pete Seeger and the Weavers.
Obviously many of you here tonight have also been weaned, sung to and joined in song with one of our country’s unique national treasurers. That’s how Pete Seeger was described a few years ago when he was awarded the Kennedy Center honors. Years after being denied the opportunity to perform on national television, years after the only concert venue that would book Pete were union halls like that of 1199, now the nation was awarding one of its highest cultural salutations to Pete.
But we are honoring Pete for another reason tonight. We are honoring Pete as an individual who fought the good fight, who walked the picket lines, who sang at the rallies, who went south to finish the second American revolution, who early on was one of those we could count on in the fight to end the war in Vietnam, to win the freedom of Angela Davis, or in support of Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers.
We are honoring Pete because he has continued to believe in that dirty word: that dangerous word, and I am not referring to the new national debate on are you now or have you ever been a liberal. Pete has hung in there; Pete is still, heaven forbid, a socialist. We in the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism are pleased to be able to count Pete and Toshi as our members, as activists who on the eve of the millennium still believe in the possibility of a better world. They still believe in a world free of exploitation, discrimination, racism, sexism, genocide, war and environmental destruction.
In honoring Pete, we are honoring a fine tradition. - A tradition of rebellion, radicalism and revolution. Over two hundred years ago, the revolutionaries of their day decided that things needed to change. These revolutionaries dumped the King’s tea in the Boston harbor, and the American Revolution was born. They built their own revolutionary organization, and they came up with a unique name, the Committees of Correspondence. Our country was built on such rebellion and radicalism.
Our revolution was unfinished. African Americans were held in bondage, women were denied the vote, and only men who owned property were initially franchised. But radicals struggled and persevered. In the first place was the valiant struggle of those enslaved, and their allies the abolitionists, who were initially called crazy, then radicals, then revolutionaries, and then it was a mass movement to end slavery. The bloodiest war in our nation’s history was required to end slavery, to finish the American revolution. We can thank Pete, and Paul Robeson, and Huddy Leadbetter and Malvina Reynolds for forever keeping that drive for equality in our country’s songs. Generation after generation has been brought up singing Go Down Moses and We Shall Overcome.
The Pete’s, and the Paul’s, the Woody’s and the Florence Reese’s took their side with their working brothers and sisters during the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and in Pete’s case, into the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. There wasn’t a picket line, that wasn’t loud, shouting and singing. They knew how to picket. There weren’t any Taft-Hartley or Landrum-Griffin laws that prevented solidarity labor picket lines and secondary boycotts.
Then it was my generation’s turn. We traveled south, answering the call of the southern civil rights movement, answering the call of the generations before, those pre-mature fighters against lynching and legal segregation, the communists, socialists, radicals and revolutionaries of their days. The old SNYC, the Southern Negro Youth Congress gave rise to the new SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. And they were joined by the troubadours of their day, including the ever- young Pete.
Years later, one of the earliest advocates for the freedom of Angela Davis was Pete Seeger. And today, Pete is in the front ranks of those calling for a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Almost thirty years ago, Angela Davis was on trial for her life. The people’s movement at that time said that if we could win an end to Angela’s solitary confinement, if we could win bail, if we could get Angela to actively participate in her own defense, if we could build such a mass movement, then we could win in the jury of public opinion, political presence, and the actual trial jury.
We in the CCDS are joining today with our members like Pete, like Angela, in fighting for a new trial for our brother Mumia Abu-Jamal. We are saying this brother must not die! We are demanding a new fair trial, a trial that is not filled with tainted evidence. We feel that in such a trial, that we can overcome, that we can win. We feel that such a momentum, such a victory can impact on hate crimes, can be a brake against police terror, and will be a real repudiation of the Klan. We ask you here to join with us in carrying the message of saving the life of our brother to all corners. They said in the past that it couldn’t be done, and we showed them, let’s do it again.
We in the CCDS, feel that there has to be a better way. Mumia is on death row, and the industrial polluters of our country run free. Thousands of children in our country don’t have enough to eat, don’t have decent health care, yet the insurance companies continue to rake in billions. In today’s world, one individual is richer than most nations in the world, and for those of us who do not use Macs, Bill Gates not only has run rough-shod over the competition, but has most of us who use computers, at his mercy, with unstable Windows.
With the end of the cold war, why is our nation’s military budget larger than ever? Why did our Senate refuse to sign onto the call for nuclear disarmament? Why has our country supported the dictatorships in Indonesia, the Philippines, apartheid South Africa, Pinochet’s Chile, Guatemala, Serbia, and Franco’s? Is there a real need for the rich to get continuously richer, and the poor, poorer. Why can’t we have an increase in the minimum wage to $6.15; why can’t future increases be tied to increases in the cost of living index, why can’t we have a living wage? The answer is blowing in the wind.
Yes, brothers and sisters, there has to be a better way. For some few capitalism is working, but not for the overwhelming majority of others. Call it what you want, but I know of no word that describes an alternative to capitalism other than socialism.
You may ask, what kind of socialism? What are your models? And I and members of the CCDS will honestly answer, we don’t know what forms it will take, but this clearly isn’t working. We will say, let’s work together, let’s talk together, let’s debate together, let’s struggle together, and as we do, we will find our way, the way to socialism in the new century.
Our models… we don’t have any, and many of us feel there never were any models, since every country and situation are different from others. We will chart our path as we struggle, the so-called models of the past were in fact distortions of socialism.
What we can say is: If you want to join this struggle with others, if we want to learn from past generations of radicals, revolutionaries, socialists and communists, then we should all want to work together. Join us, let’s work together, together we can struggle and win.
Our struggles, and our childrens’ and their childrens’ struggles will make our revolution. Thank you,
[Jay Schaffner has been an activist since the 60s in Chicago, when he was a member of the W.E.B. DuBois Clubs and Students for a Democratic Society, then helping to found the Young Workers Liberation League, and later becoming part of it's national leadership. He helped form and was part of the New York and national leadership of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s. He became a staff organizer for the musicians union, Local 802, AFM, later being elected to its executive board, even though he was not a professional musician himself. He helped develop and found Portside in 2000, and now retired, he continues as one of the moderators of Portside.]