REBUILD THE PEACE MOVEMENT NOW! STOP THE VIOLENCE! STOP THE INTERVENTIONS!

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

REBUILD THE PEACE MOVEMENT NOW! STOP THE VIOLENCE! STOP THE INTERVENTIONS!
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.

DIARY OF A HEARTLAND RADICAL

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 2017

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
4/2/2107
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.

STOP THE PERMAMENT WAR ECONOMY NOW!

Posted by Janet Tuckers on March 30, 2017 under Antiwar, Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism: Peace and Solidarity Committee

war economy

President Trump’s proposed budget includes a big increase in military spending and is a document for war.  It attacks the environment, diplomacy, education and social programs that benefit the poor and people of color.  CCDS opposes this budget, calling instead for a 50% cut in funding for the Pentagon to support jobs, the environment and programs benefiting the people.  The following statement gives historical perspective to the growth of the military budget and the military industrial complex.
Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, proclaimed the danger the new Bolshevik Revolution represented to the needs of capitalist expansion: trade, investment, cheap labor and resources.

Almost thirty years later as World War II ended key advisors of President Truman warned of a return to the Great Depression if war related demand for manufacturing products would decline. The United States Cold War against the former Soviet Union began with the dropping of the bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, sending a message to the Soviets that the United States was the new dominant power in the world. Between 1945 and 1950, the President declared his famous doctrine warning of an “international communist threat,” began a foreign assistance program for part of Europe, launched the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and promised never to recognize the new Peoples Republic of China.

In 1950 President Truman embraced the recommendations he received from advisors in National Security Council Document 68. It called for a perpetual commitment to military spending. It recommended that when a president sits down to map out a federal budget, his/her first priority should be to spend all the military wants and only after that should he allocate financial resources to other societal needs.

As soon as the Korean War started NSC 68 became an unchallengeable feature of public policy. It served the needs of the economy, provided the war material to engage in imperialist adventures all across the globe and, to justify itself, launched a global struggle against “international communism.” Even though the image of the demonic enemy, the Soviet Union, was a lie, US military prowess would be used to stifle revolutionary nationalist and socialist movements and regimes wherever they sprung up.

Dramatic increases in military spending occurred periodically ever since the 1940s for major foreign interventions and as an economic stimulus. For example, President Kennedy’s administration was made up of the military hawks who had tried to get President Eisenhower to spend more on the military. Kennedy expanded investment in counter-insurgency forces, war-related research and development, and military assistance. Eisenhower had held the line and in his farewell address warned of the unlimited influence of the military that was growing in the United States, a military/industrial complex. But in the Kennedy and Johnson years, military spending increased by a third. To scare the American people and get votes candidate Kennedy warned of a “missile gap” with the Soviet Union which turned out to be false.

Twenty years later President Reagan spoke of a “window of vulnerability” as US defenses allegedly had diminished because of “détente” with the Soviet Union in the 1970s. Reagan’s justification for defense spending was a lie also. After modest declines in military spending in the 1990s as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, President Clinton’s last projected defense budget before leaving office was set at $306 billion.

In the new century the United States substantially increased military spending to launch two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some years ago Joseph Stiglitz predicted the Iraq War would cost the American people $3 trillion dollars. Today some analysts claim that figure has been surpassed.

During the Obama years military spending stabilized in some areas and increased in others, such as projected development of a new generation of nuclear weapons.
War has changed also as US forces over the last two years have struck “enemies” with drones and bombs in six countries, and maintained over 700 military bases in at least 40 countries (particularly on the African continent). The military spending and wars of the twenty-first centuries were defended as responses to the shock of 9/11 and the need for a global “war on terrorism.”

Now we have a new Trump administration, The President has announced he will be seeking an additional $54 billion in his first military budget (which will total just over $600 billion), a large 10 percent increase while cutting a comparable amount of spending for non-military tasks. For show he has targeted selected military projects for criticism but it is clear he “wants to win wars again.” As NSC 68 called for a long time ago military spending will remain the first priority of the federal government.

In sum, what we can deduce from this history is that military spending since World War II has been a top priority of the federal government. Military spending has consistently “primed the pump,” overcoming the traditional tendency of capitalism toward stagnation. Also, military superiority (the US spends more on the military than the next seven countries combined) has been the prime tool for maintaining global capitalism and opposing any governments, movements, or ideologies that oppose the expansion of capitalism. Millions of deaths and casualties of people everywhere, the loss of thousands of lives of American military personnel, the flight of millions of refugees from war torn lands, and the incredible impacts of war and preparation for war on the environment all suggest that the war system is a nightmare for most citizens of the globe.

We in CCDS call for a 50% reduction in the military budget to fund social programs, jobs, and a Green New Deal. We welcome and encourage the rebirth of a US and global peace movement and we pledge to participate in doing all we can working with others to end the capitalist war system.

FOREIGN POLICY: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

Posted by Janet Tuckers on January 14, 2017 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

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Monday, January 9, 2017
FOREIGN POLICY: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

Harry Targ, Co-Chair CCDS

An Empire in Decline

United States global hegemony is coming to an end. The United States was the country that collaborated with the Soviet Union to defeat fascism in Europe and with Great Britain to crush Japanese militarism in Asia in 1945. The Soviet Union, the first Socialist state, suffered 27 million dead in the war to defeat the Nazis. Great Britain, the last great imperial power, was near the end of its global reach because of war and the rise of anti-colonial movements in Asia and Africa.

As the beneficiary of war-driven industrial growth and the development of a military-industrial complex unparalleled in world history, the United States was in a position in 1945 to construct a post-war international political and economic order based on huge banks and corporations. The United States created the international financial and trading system, imposed the dollar as the global currency, built military alliances to challenge the Socialist Bloc, and used its massive military might and capacity for economic penetration to infiltrate, subvert, and dominate most of the economic and political regimes across the globe.

The United States always faced resistance and was by virtue of its economic system and ideology drawn into perpetual wars, leading to trillions of dollars in military spending, the loss of hundreds of thousands of American lives, and the deaths of literally millions of people, mostly people of color, to maintain its empire.

As was the case of prior empires, the United States empire is coming to an end. A multipolar world is reemerging with challenges to traditional hegemony coming from China, India, Russia, and the larger less developed countries such as Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, South Korea, and Thailand. By the 1970s, traditional allies in Europe and Japan had become economic competitors of the United States.

The United States throughout this period of change has remained the overwhelming military power, however, spending more on defense than the next seven countries combined. It remains the world’s economic giant even though growth in domestic product between 1980 and 2000 has been a third of its GDP growth from 1960 to 1980. Confronted with economic stagnation and declining profit rates the United States economy began in the 1970s to transition from a vibrant industrial base to financial speculation and the globalization of production.

The latest phase of capitalism, the era of neoliberal globalization, has required massive shifts of surplus value from workers to bankers and the top 200 hundred corporations which by the 1980s controlled about one-third of all production. The instruments of consciousness, a handful of media conglomerates, have consolidated their control of most of what people read, see, hear, and learn about the world.

A policy centerpiece of the new era, roughly spanning the rise to power of Ronald Reagan to today, including the eight years of the Obama Administration, has been a massive shift of wealth from the many to the few. A series of graphs published by the Economic Policy Institute in December, 2016 show that productivity, profits, and economic concentration have risen while real wages have declined, inequality has increased, gaps between the earnings of people of color and women and white men have grown, and persistent poverty has remained for twenty percent of the population. The austerity policies, the centerpiece of neoliberalism, have spread all across the globe. That is what globalization is about.

Paralleling the shifts toward a transnational capitalist system and the concentration of wealth and power on a global level, the decline of U.S power, relative to other nation-states in the twenty-first century, has increased. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the spreading violence throughout the Middle East have overwhelmed US efforts to control events. Russia, Iran, China, and even weaker nations in the United Nations Security Council have begun to challenge its power and authority. Mass movements increasingly mobilize against vial regimes supported by the United States virtually everywhere (including within the U.S. as well).

However, most U.S. politicians still articulate the mantra of “the United States as the indispensable nation.” The articulation of American Exceptionalism represents an effort to maintain a global hegemony that no longer exists and a rationale to justify the massive military-industrial complex which fuels much of the United States economy.

Imperial Decline and Domestic Politics

The narrative above is of necessity brief and oversimplified but provides a back drop for reflecting on the substantial shifts in American politics. The argument here is that foreign policy and international political economy are “the elephants in the room” as we reflect on the outcomes of the 2016 elections. It does not replace other explanations or “causes” of the election but supplements them.

First, the pursuit of austerity policies, particularly in other countries (the cornerstone of neoliberal globalization) has been a central feature of international economics since the late 1970s. From the establishment of the debt system in the Global South, to “shock therapy” in countries as varied as Bolivia and the former Socialist Bloc, to European bank demands on Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, to Reaganomics and the promotion of Clinton’s “market democracies,” and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the wealth of the world has been shifting from the poor and working classes to the rich.

Second, to promote neoliberal globalization, the United States has constructed by far the world’s largest war machine. With growing opposition to U.S. militarism around the world, policy has shifted in recent years from “boots on the ground,” (although there still are many), to special ops, private contractors, drones, cyberwar, spying, and “quiet coups,” such as in Brazil and Venezuela, to achieve neoliberal advances.

One group of foreign policy insiders, the humanitarian interventionists, has lobbied for varied forms of intervention to promote “human rights, democratization, and markets.” Candidate Hillary Clinton and a host of “deep state” insiders advocated for support of the military coup in Honduras, a NATO coalition effort to topple the regime in Libya, the expansion of troops in Afghanistan, even stronger support of Israel, funding and training anti-government rebels in Syria and the overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was a major advocate for humanitarian interventionist policies in the Obama administration.

Humanitarian interventionists have joined forces with “neoconservatives” in the new century to advocate policies that, they believe, would reverse the declining relative power of the United States. This coalition of foreign policy influentials has promoted a New Cold War against Russia and an Asian pivot to challenge the emerging multipolar world. The growing turmoil in the Middle East and the new rising powers in Eurasia also provide rationale for qualitative increases in military spending, enormous increases in research and development of new military technologies, and the reintroduction of ideologies that were current during the last century about mortal enemies and the inevitability of war.

The “elephant in the room” that pertained to the 2016 election was growing opposition to an activist United States economic/political/military role in the world. Many center/left Americans, to the extent that they were motivated by international issues, saw the Clinton foreign policy record as emblematic of the long history of United States imperialism. Further, given the fact that U.S. interventionism and support for neoliberalism have generated growing global opposition, many voters feared a possible Clinton presidency would extend foreign policies that have already created chaos and anger, particularly in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

Finally, to the extent that economics affected the electoral outcome (and the degree to which this is correct is being hotly debated), the neoliberal global agenda that has been enshrined in United States international economic policy since the 1970s, has had much to do with rising austerity, growing disparities of wealth and power, wage and income stagnation, and declining social safety nets at home as well. The Trans Pacific Partnership was both a possible reality and a metaphor for fifty years of failed international economic policy for American workers.

Since the election, foreign policy has become even more of an “elephant in the room” as millions of Americans struggle with the prospects of a devastatingly inhumane new administration (perhaps one that logically follows from the fifty year trajectory described above).

The Post-Election Narrative: Trump Won the Election Because of the Russians!

The Washington Post late Friday night published an explosive story that, in many ways, is classic American journalism of the worst sort: the key claims are based exclusively on the unverified assertions of anonymous officials, who in turn are disseminating their own claims about what the CIA purportedly believes, all based on evidence that remains completely secret. Glenn Greenwald, “Anonymous Leaks to the WashPost About the CIA’s Russia Beliefs Are No Substitute for Evidence,” The Intercept, 12/10/16.

The “liberal” cable news outlet MSNBC, print media, and social media went ballistic Friday night, December 9, over the release of a story in the “objective” Washington Post that the CIA had found a connection between Russian hackers, WikiLeaks, and the release of damaging stories about presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Rachel Maddow was positively breathless as she reported the Post story which in effect explains the Clinton loss as a result of Russian interference. Weaving a yarn of conspiracy, Maddow also implicated the leadership of the Republican Party in Congress for opposing any investigation of the CIA warning before the elections. The Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell questioned the credibility and partisanship of the CIA claims about a Putin/Trump collaboration.

Maddow further linked the CIA claims that Russia used the distribution of hacked messages to embarrass candidate Hillary Clinton to Trump’s alleged close ties to Russia, his investments in the Russian energy industry, and rumors that the next Secretary of State would be an Exxon/Mobil CEO, whose corporation has close ties to Russia. (She correctly pointed out that if Russia had sided with the Clinton candidacy, the Republicans would have been outraged). Maddow, the Post, and many social media outlets have suggested that all this adds up to a severe constitutional crisis. A foreign nation, Russia, had interfered with free elections in American democracy. She implied that the U.S. would never engage in such conduct overseas nor should it accept outside interference in the electoral process at home.

The story was flawed from so many perspectives it was difficult to disentangle the real threats to American society.

First, the United States has been interfering in elections all across the globe at least since the onset of the Cold War. The same CIA that is the hero in this story created Christian Democratic parties in Europe shortly after World War Two to challenge the popularity of Communist parties across the continent. It was instrumental in creating and supporting virulently anti-Communist trade unions in Europe and Latin America. And it funded the development of a panoply of anti-Communist scholarly networks inspired by the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Some of the most revered scholars, writers, artists, were knowingly or unknowingly compromised by the CIA political agenda.

In recent times, anti-Communist and erratic Russia President Boris Yeltsin received aid and campaign advice from the Clinton Administration during the Russian leader’s 1996 run for reelection. Yeltsin was being challenged by candidates from Russian nationalist and Communist parties. The victory of either would have slowed or reversed the so-called “shock therapy” conversions from a state-directed to a neoliberal economy introduced by a compliant Yeltsin.

Of course, interference in the politics of other countries has been an unfortunate staple of United States foreign policy throughout the world, particularly in Latin America: Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and most recently, Honduras and Venezuela. These patterns of interference have not been merely gossipy stories leaked to the media but the funneling of money, sabotage, training and support of coup plotters, and other direct, physical forms of intervention.

As suggested above, inside the Beltway an influential group of foreign policy elites have been pressuring the Obama Administration to expand efforts to push back Russia, including undermining Vladimir Putin’s rule (Putin is no different a political dictator and supporter of crony capitalism than the earlier U.S. favorite Boris Yeltsin claimed Stephen Cohen, “CNN Gets Schooled by Stephen Cohen on DNC Hack, Trump-Putin Links, Video,” Russia Insider, Russia-insider.com August 1, 2016).

The United States and its NATO allies, violating promises from the 1990s, have been placing troops and bases in Poland and the Baltic states. The United States played a significant role in the campaign that led to the ouster of the elected leader of Ukraine (a plot organized by a neoconservative State Department ally of Hillary Clinton). In short, leading foreign policymakers have been lobbying for a New Cold War. And, the “liberal media” stereotype of an aging, macho, shirtless, dictator provides a superb visual image of the enemy. And to the contrary, candidate Trump hinted at the possibility of reducing tensions between the United States and Russia.

Further, the aforementioned media have assumed but not demonstrated in any way that the alleged Russian hacking and the use of WikiLeaks (an opponent believed inside the Beltway to be almost as nefarious as Putin) to publicize compromising e-mails determined the outcome of the elections. This is in juxtaposition to the electronic libraries of published articles seeking to explain the election outcomes.

Many election analyses have correctly highlighted factors shaping the election including such variables as class, race, region, anti-immigrant sentiments, voter suppression, and campaign tactics. “Fake News” (as opposed to the usual mainstream media distortions) is the latest variable added to the list of explanations. It is the case that the allegations of Russian hacking uncovered by the CIA months ago and resurfacing now is the Washington Post, MSNBC, USA Today, CNN version of “Fake News.”

In the post-election period serious reflection and debate about who won and lost, why, and what can progressives do to resist and reorganize has been overtaken by an old story about foreign intervention. The old spies who had deviously worked in factories and tried to organize unions, marched with civil rights activists, taught a different history in schools that touched on the massacre of Nation Americans, slavery, the lack of voting rights, and segregation, have been replaced by cyber spies: hackers who sit at computers anywhere around the world bent on destroying American democracy. And these hackers get their marching orders from, whom? The Russians! Foreign policy remains “the elephant in the room.” Progressives need to add it to strategizing about the future.

Harry Targ teaches United States foreign policy at Purdue University. He is a co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) and blogs at www.heartlandradical.blogspot.com

CCDS Remembers Fidel Castro

Posted by Janet Tuckers on November 28, 2016 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

15109497_1118248628288421_7135082385598344799_nCCDS Remembers Fidel Castro

We in the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) join the majority of humanity to express our sorrow at the death of Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban Revolution from 1953 until 2006. Fidel and his movement overthrew the rule of US big business in Cuba, and ended the exploitation and impoverishment of the Cuban people, achieving independence for the proud island nation 90 miles from our shores. This historic victory reverberated world-wide.

Many of the people’s of the Global South saw Fidel as an inspiration for their own struggles for liberation from colonialism and neo-colonialism. Those from the United States and  Europe, and especially the youth from all classes and walks of life –Black, Latino, and white working-class youth and many young people with privilege, learned from Fidel that progressives must struggle to support human liberation everywhere.
After generations of extreme poverty and suffering for the Cuban people, Fidel Castro at the head of the Cuban Communist Party embarked on a hugely successful program to eradicate major diseases from Cuba and greatly improve the health and life expectancy of the Cuban people. From these achievements, Cuba has sent medical professionals abroad to treat and train people in developing countries, especially in the Global South. Fidel and the new revolutionary socialist Cuban government mobilized thousands of young people to eradicate illiteracy in Cuba, and create an educational system that is the envy of many countries around the world, and especially those struggling under the yoke of neo-colonialism, capitalism, and the capitalist-dominated global economy today. Fidel and his comrades also established programs to provide jobs and a basic level of economic security for the Cuban people. Cuba today is leading the world in assisting the development of worker-run cooperatives, enriching the development of socialism in Cuba and setting an example for others. Fidel and the Cuban government worked hard to meet the needs of and empower the Cuban people, while also extending a helping hand to millions of people around the world. All of this despite the brutal economic blockade imposed by the US for over a half a century, with the intent of strangling Cuba economically, and despite repeated failed attempts by the US to overthrow the Cuban government and to assassinate Fidel Castro.
Fidel was correct when he said: “I speak on behalf of the children of the world who do not have a piece of bread. I speak on behalf  of the sick  who have  no medicine, of those whose rights to life and human dignity have been denied.”

We, along with millions of others world-wide, pledge ourselves to continue along the path initiated by the vision of Fidel Castro, to build a world of social and economic justice, and of socialism.

Venceremos
Viva Fidel Castro!

CCDS Dialogue About the 2016 Election: What Happened and Where Do We Go From Here

Posted by CarlDavidson on November 22, 2016 under Elections, Organizing, Rightwing, Strategy | Read the First Comment

 

Four Articles Inviting Comments

CCDS members, along with the left and progressives generally, have been engaged in discussions about the recent presidential election and what it means for our political work for the next several years. The essays below are initial offerings in what should be an ongoing discussion. Please send us your writings about the election and how you see the future of the left and the progressive majority.

1. Sanders, Clinton and Trump – the Political Crisis of Neoliberalism

By Randy Shannon, National Coordinating Committee, CCDS,

Report to National Executive Committee of CCDS on the 2016 Election

November 16, 2106

(This report was fashioned to meet a ten minute spoken delivery limit.)

A New York Times analysis showed that the majority of voters whose income was less than $50k voted for Hillary Clinton. The majority of voters whose income was over $50K voted for Donald Trump. The electorate is defined as the body of persons entitled to vote in an election. 75% of the electorate gave up hope of changing the austerity regime of neoliberalism. They either did not vote for Clinton or refused to vote. Consent of the governed to the Wall Street leadership of the hegemonic bloc of capital – despite a $1 billion campaign war chest – has withered.

The Trump alternative was so repugnant that only 25% of the electorate voted for him. Thus there is an electoral mandate to reverse or reject the policy of neoliberal austerity; but there is not an electoral mandate to enact the far right policies identified with the racist obstructionist Republican Congress. This mandate was expressed in the Democratic primary vote for Sanders whose social democratic program and candidacy were nevertheless anathema to the hegemonic bloc of Wall Street banks.

The rejection of the austerity regime was also expressed in the success of all ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage. Some voter polls confirm this trend: 49% of voters cited “change” as the most important reason for their vote; of these, 85% voted for Trump. In MI and PA 50% said trade deals cost jobs; 60% of these voted for Trump.

The 2008 crash of the banks’ housing bubble accelerated the economy down the path of a deflationary crisis. Under Pres. Obama the central bank has managed the crisis for the oligarchs by using extraordinary monetary easing with zero interest and creation of money to prop up the Wall Street banks. Since 2008 the Fed Funds rate was slashed from 5.5% to 0% and the Fed’s balance sheet expanded from $870 billion in 2007 to over $4.5 trillion in 2014.

December 2015 saw the peak of the weak Fed induced economic recovery. For workers, most of whom never benefited from the recovery, the pace of economic decline has accelerated. On November 16th the NY Fed, in its monthly Empire Report, stated “employment counts and hours worked continued to decline.” A similar report of economic contraction was released by the Philadelphia Fed on November 17th. The current austerity regime offers low wage and unemployed workers no prospects, thus the Fight for $15 movement. More importantly those still employed are experiencing the slow motion economic implosion of the last 8 years.

Read more of this article »

What Now for CCDS?

Posted by Janet Tuckers on November 18, 2016 under Elections, Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

To say that the results of the U.S. election has set the progressive movement back, that we underestimated the strength and unity of the racist, misogynistic, homophobic movement in this country, is simply to state the obvious. There must be a period of reflection and analysis that has already begun. But there must also be action to unite the progressive forces and repudiate the triumphant forces of hate.

The Committees of Correspondence has three characteristics that put us in a position to work towards that unity: our educational work, our activism and involvement in the various movements for progressive change throughout the country and our efforts at left unity. We must strengthen and deepen our efforts in these areas and continue to ensure that each area of our work cross over and informs the others.

Our excellent educational work must continue. We will be offering study of right-wing populism not just in the U.S. but in the world. our educational work will also address the causes, consequences, and impacts of neoliberalism on workers of all races, genders, and ethnicities.

There are many young people standing out and taking leadership to the struggle. who are full of a passion for justice. We’re in an excellent position to provide that education and leadership that we have gained through many years of experience with their passion and activism. as we have many members who are lifelong, experienced activists. Those activists are involved in many different struggles. We must renew our efforts to project a movement that is greater than the sum of these parts.

This period provides opportunities for joint action that we can participate in and help to lead. This should include efforts to reform the current political and electoral structures of our government. If there is one thing that this election showed was that the left and right desired a government cleansed of undemocratic processes that benefit the rich few over the majority. We need to increase our activism and support of inspiring social movements such as Standing Rock, Black lives Matter, Fight for 15 and support for immigrant rights.

Now more than ever it’s necessary for the various organizations on the left and independent activists to come together. Perhaps this setback will give us all a new humility that affirms that we need each other, that we must be unified in the face of a united reactionary opposition.

The NEC

We hope you will join us on November 28th for this discussion: https://www.facebook.com/events/1866694753564812/

Labor Committee Resolution for CCDS Convention

Posted by Janet Tuckers on July 13, 2016 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

Labor Committee Resolution for CCDS Convention 2016

Labor Resolution

Defend and Strengthen Labor, and Build Social Justice Unionism

Whereas, the labor movement has been under an intensified attack for over 40 years by capital, causing great harm to workers, unions, the working class and society as a whole, resulting in loss of pay, benefits, working conditions and quality of life; and
Whereas, workers, their unions and their allies are resisting these attacks and making some advances, such as gains in the fight for $15, organizing the unorganized, and resisting cutbacks and austerity; and
Whereas, workers of color, women, youth and workers in the south often face the greatest discrimination, exploitation, and oppression; and
Whereas, global capitalism, led by US capital, is exploiting and oppressing the workers of the world; and
Whereas, trade unions and the broader labor movement has historically played a strategic role in advancing democracy, equality, social justice and peace in the country; and
Whereas, CCDS members, our supporters and other progressive labor activists can make a special contribution to strengthen the labor movement with our class analysis of capitalism, imperialism, racism, sexism, and other forms of exploitation and oppression, and our experience in the trade unions and broader working-class movements;
Therefore be it resolved, that the 8th National Convention of CCDS direct CCDS and specifically its Labor Committee to develop a plan to:
(1) help strengthen workers ability to fight more effectively to protect and advance worker’s pay, benefits, working conditions, quality of life, and the working-class as a whole, and rebuff attacks on workers by employers and the political right, using a broad array of tactics from shop floor actions, to strikes, boycotts, building community coalitions, education, political action and other strategies and tactics that are useful,
(2) help strengthen unions and other labor organizations to be more effective in day-to-day struggles by raising workers’ consciousness, from democratic union consciousness, to class consciousness, to socialist consciousness, which will strengthen the struggle against racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination to achieve social justice unionism,
(3) help workers and organized labor unite with other people’s movements, in the workplace, community, and in the political arena to build and strengthen the working-class and the Progressive Majority, to combat racism and white supremacy, sexism, and all forms of discrimination to advance the fight for social justice unionism, including fighting for single-payer health care, free education through college, climate justice, jobs programs, to oppose free trade agreements such as the TPP, and to develop labor’s independent political action, and that we give special attention to the struggles of workers of color, women, youth, workers in the south, and those workers and working-class persons who are among the most exploited and oppressed,
(4) help build solidarity with workers in other countries in the struggle against imperialism, neoliberalism and all forms of exploitation and oppression, and for peace,
(5) help build fully democratic unions and help CCDS members and other progressive and left workers win leadership through democratic processes in their unions and other workers’ organizations,
(6) help more politically advanced workers develop a socialist consciousness through education and activism that includes the organization of classes, forums and action campaigns, help build left forms in the labor movement that unites the many around a progressive program, and recruit politically advanced workers to the CCDS.

Submitted by the CCDS Labor Committee

Contact: Paul Krehbiel, Labor Committee co-chair (paulkrehbiel@earthlink.net)

Convention Resolutions

Posted by Janet Tuckers on June 9, 2016 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

[CCDS Members] CCDS 2016 National Convention Resolutions and Proposals

 

To CCDS members,

Below are the five resolutions and proposals received by the program committee for the CCDS national convention in July, as of June 5.  Please consider and discuss them with other members and your local chapters and committees as appropriate.  Any feedback may be sent to the convention program chair, Duncan McFarland, at mcfarland13@gmail.com.  More resolutions may be received and will be posted.

I hope to see you at the convention,

Duncan McFarland, Convention Program Committee Chair

contents:

o “Socialist Education Today,” submitted by Harry Targ, Indiana, and the CCDS Socialist Education Project

o “Advancing to Socialism through Substantive Democracy,” a strategy proposal submitted by Karl Kramer, northern California

o Resolution on Organizing submitted by Paul Krehbiel, southern California

o Resolution on opposing US imperialism and supporting international peace and solidarity, submitted by CCDS Peace and Solidarity Committee

o “Educating about Substantive Democracy through the vehicle of the Democracy Charter,” a program proposal submitted by Karl Kramer, northern California

I. SOCIALIST EDUCATION TODAY: a Project of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism / Draft Convention Resolution; submitted by Harry Targ and the Socialist Education Project

 

Context: CCDS, an organization with a long and honorable record in support of workers, people of color, and women, is now over twenty years old. It formed out of existing left and progressive organizations in the period after the collapse of  Socialist states in the early 1990s.  Its members have been involved in virtually every mass struggle since then.  CCDS, like other left organizations, must continue to reassess its mission and role in the struggle for socialism based upon its talents and capacities for work.

 

Given its long history of activism, educational work, and its continuing contributions to building left unity and the progressive majority and with full recognition of reduced size be it resolved that:

 

1.CCDS continue as a left organization, maintain its issue committees, and work with others to  to build the left and progressive majority, particularly  working with our comrades in new younger political groupings.   This work must be realistically crafted to our capabilities and talents.

 

2. CCDS prioritize a newly expanded Socialist Education Project. This project would utilize the skills and resources of its existing membership to address current issues, develop theory and articulate socialist pedagogical techniques.  The SEP will sponsor online discussions and resources, and  produce literature, visual aids, modules, and cultural products of value to those creating a socialism that both draws upon its history and is relevant to building a Twenty-First Century Socialism.

 

3.CCDS charge the Socialist Education Project committee with the task of reconstituting itself such that the various educational activities of the organization, current and future, are more effectively coordinated.  The new SEP committee will report directly to the NCC as a priority. 

 

Members who wish to participate in writing, electronic communication, constructing educational materials, developing materials to better understand specific issues, and/or outreach to other left groups and millennial organizations, should be encouraged to participate in SEP.

 

4.The Twenty-First Century Socialist Education Project should prioritize building left unity, networking with millennials, and developing materials relevant to the progressive majority.

 

In sum, The Twenty-First Century Socialist Education Project will develop materials that relate struggles today to the Marxist tradition, the history of Socialist movements, assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of prior Socialist regimes, and the understanding of the global political economy of finance capital.

 

Further, it will facilitate the deepening of our understanding of the centrality of the connections between class, race, and gender.

 

And, the education project will advance the study of historical and dialectical materialism, the role of spirituality in human development, and the connections between individuals, classes, nations, and the global system. 

 

Finally, the project should contribute to the elimination of the fragmentation of the mass movement, advancing and linking together contemporary political activism around the Fight for $15, union organizing, immigrant rights, climate justice, anti-war, women’s reproductive choice, Black Lives Matter, and youth student debt. At the same time networking around education will encourage further left unity projects.

 

 

II. Advancing to Socialism through Substantive Democracy

a Strategy Proposal

Author: Karl Kramer

Committee: Northern California

 

Goal: to advance a revolutionary process to socialism by deepening democracy to achieve a substantive and transformative democracy

 

Objectives:

  • to counter neoliberalism in the United States and around the world
  • to reverse income inequality and wealth disparity
  • to develop class consciousness among the people of the United States
  • to promote the development of economic democracy and democracy in the workplace
  • to defend the public sector as a socially-owned sector of the economy
  • to combat racism, sexism and xenophobia as ideologies to push down wages and working conditions
  • to fight militarism as a projection of imperial power to create areas of cheap labor and to steal resources

 

Proposal: CCDS will implement a strategy to develop a social movement that will have a clear class consciousness in the struggle to achieve a genuine democracy that will begin a transformative process leading to socialism. We will do so by fighting the neoliberal economic agenda, imperialism, war, poverty and racism. This strategy will have the following components:

 

  • We will build unity between the working class, the middle classes of professionals and small businesses, and the African American, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander and indigenous communities in a struggle against the monopolization of wealth and power in the hands of transnational corporations and the wealthy elite.
  • We will work towards strengthening existing and building new relationships between progressive organizations that represent the sectors that are directly affected by exploitation and oppression.
  • We will work on educating people to build the basis for a greater level of organization, that will then lead to realistic possibilities of mobilizing in a mass movement that can achieve substantial political and economic change.

 

Rationale:  An effective organizational strategy requires the necessary work of providing political and economic education so that people have a clear vision of a better world, a class analysis of society and the class consciousness to know who are their allies across racial, ethnic and gender lines. Only through this type of radicalizing education can we develop the type of egalitarian and liberating organizations that will mobilize a mass movement of people to transform society. This proposal shifts the main emphasis of our work to focusing on the education that will lead to revolutionary organizing.

 

To be perfectly clear, this is not an educational process that forfeits taking action. This is an educational process that accompanies the battles against racism and police repression, the attacks on social programs, militarism, economic exploitation and the devastation of the environment.

 

This is an educational process that will build the basis for a five-point program to reverse income inequality and wealth disparity.

  1. Stopping the elimination of union and public sector jobs

We need to support the fast food workers and WalMart workers in their Fight for $15 and a Union. We need to strengthen the National Labor Relations Act and extend its protections to farm workers and domestic workers. Public sector workers who were laid-off in the 2008 recession have not been reinstated due to political reasons, not budgetary. Unemployed parents on public assistance are being used to do the work of civil service employees. The Republicans are trying to dismantle the U.S. Postal Service which has been a source of good-paying, union jobs with an integrated workforce.

 

  1. Ending the injustice of mass incarceration

We need to stop the incarceration of a large percentage of the population, particularly African Americans and Latinos, for the benefit of the prison industrial complex, the profiteering of private prisons and the exploitation of captive labor that averages 25 cents per hour. We need to end the life-time of employment discrimination against the formerly incarcerated that forces them into the lowest wage, dirtiest and most dangerous work.

 

  1. Fixing a broken immigration system

We must stop the repression by immigration authorities that is breaking up families and forcing people into the shadows. We must end the worksite enforcement of immigration law that makes workers feel vulnerable in asserting their workplace rights. We need to promote alternatives to comprehensive immigration reform, which trades some legalization for increased repression, such as the progressive legislative proposals of the Dignity Campaign (www.dignitycampaign.org).

 

  1. Fixing a broken welfare-to-work system

Across the country, parents are compelled to do degrading and menial work for their public assistance checks and food stamps. Once they reach their time limit on public assistance, they are forced to take whatever low-wage job they can find. We need to fight for a program that provides real job training that is a path to a living wage job. We need to fight for expanded public sector jobs that provide opportunities for permanent civil service positions for unemployed parents.

 

  1. Fixing the “free trade” regime

We need to expose the failed promises of NAFTA, CAFTA-DR and other free trade agreements that have led to job loss, decreased wages and worsening working conditions on both sides of the border. We need to stop the Trans Pacific Partnership in its scheme to create lower-wage areas than China in a spiral to the bottom. We need to build cross-border solidarity with workers in Mexico, Latin America, Africa and Asia. We need to promote “fair trade,” with real protections for workers and the environment, as an alternative. We need to resist the military build-up and aggression with which imperialism projects its military might to create and maintain cheap labor areas of the world and rob their resources.

 

 

 

III. CCDS 2016 Convention:  Resolution on Organizing (draft)

Submitted by Paul Krehbiel, southern California

 

Whereas,  CCDS membership is aging and shrinking, and

 

Whereas,  If this is not corrected, CCDS will continue to shrink in size and will eventually lose its ability to remain a viable nationwide  socialist organization, and

 

Whereas, we highly value the work of CCDS and the many unique contributions it has made over our 25 years and continues to make to all the people’s movements and organizations, including the movement for socialism, and

 

Whereas, we would like to see CCDS continue to make the greatest contributions possible to the people’s movements and organizations, and

 

Whereas, more members working on whatever CCDS chooses to work on will make a larger contribution than a smaller number of members,

 

Therefore, be it resolved, that CCDS shall establish an Organizing Committee whose chief goal will be to develop an Organizing Plan to recruit more members into CCDS, especially millennials, people of color, women, workers, students, and social justice activists, and will develop materials and propose organizational forms to the appropriate CCDS bodies to help achieve these goals.

 

 

IV. A Draft Resolution from the CCDS Peace and Solidarity Committee 

RESPONDING TO IMPERIALIST PLANS FOR A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY ‘NEW WORLD ORDER’ OF MORE VIOLENCE, DESTRUCTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT, AND HUMAN SUFFERING

For a look at the current justification of US foreign policy, we quote the Washington Post editorial of May 21, 2016:

HARDLY A day goes by without evidence that the liberal international order of the past seven decades is being erodedChina and Russia are attempting to fashion a world in their own illiberal image…This poses an enormous trial for the next U.S. president. We say trial because no matter who takes the Oval Office, it will demand courage and difficult decisions to save the liberal international order. As a new report from the Center for a New American Security points out, this order is worth saving, and it is worth reminding ourselves why: It generated unprecedented global prosperity, lifting billions of people out of poverty; democratic government, once rare, spread to more than 100 nations; and for seven decades there has been no cataclysmic war among the great powers. No wonder U.S. engagement with the world enjoyed a bipartisan consensus.

 US imperialist policy elites have been divided between the pragmatists, who recognize some limitations to US power, and the hard right, who want to assert hegemony through military force.  Pragmatists had some influence in the Obama administration, with reluctance to attack Syria and desire to deal with Iran and Cuba.  However, the 2016 elections clearly show a consensus moving towards the the hard right in foreign policy.

The Washington Post editorial quoted above clearly articulates the dominant view envisioned by US foreign policy elites for the years ahead. It in effect constitutes a synthesis of the “neocon” and the “liberal interventionist” wings of the ruling class. In our judgment, with all our attention on primaries and elections, and different diversions,  a New Cold War has started.  Only this time it may have even greater consequences for global violence and devastation of the environment than the first one.

The Post vision of a New World Order built upon a reconstituted United States military and economic hegemony has been a central feature of policy-making at least since the end of World War II even though time after time it has suffered setbacks: from defeat in Vietnam, to radical decolonization across the Global South, and to the rise of new poles of power in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and even Europe. And grassroots mass mobilizations against neo-liberal globalization and austerity policies have risen everywhere, even in the United States. The Washington Post calls for the mobilization of  the same constellation of political forces, military resources, and concentrated wealth, that, if anything, is greater than at any time since the establishment of the US “permanent war economy” after the last World War.

Recent US diplomacy illustrates the application of the vision. President Obama remains committed to trade agreements that will open the doors in every country to penetration by the 200 corporations and banks that dominate the global economy. He continues to expand military expenditures and to authorize the development of new generations of nuclear weapons (at the same time as he visits the site of the dropping of the first atomic bomb at Hiroshima). He engages aggressively in words, deeds, and provocative military moves against Russia and China.

Also, he recently visited Cuba, proclaiming the willingness of the United States to help that country shift its economic model to “free market” capitalism and “democracy.” He then traveled to Argentina to give legitimacy to President Macri, recently elected advocate of that country’s return to the neo-liberal agenda. Meanwhile the United States encourages those who promote instability in Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Honduras and offers continuing support to the long-term violent politics of Colombia.

During the President’s visit to Vietnam, he declared an end to the longstanding US arms embargo against that country and warmly supports that country’s incorporation into the Trans Pacific Partnership. He hopes to construct a military coalition against China, even while criticizing Vietnam’s record on human rights. After Vietnam Obama is scheduled to travel to Hiroshima at a time when new militarist currents have become more popular in Japan and while US troops continue to engage in violent behavior against citizens of Okinawa, where the US has a military base. In addition, US naval vessels patrol the South China Sea.

These trips have been paralleled by the President’s historic trip to the Persian Gulf earlier this year, shoring up the ties with Saudi Arabia which have been a centerpiece of Middle East/Persian Gulf policy since President Roosevelt negotiated a permanent partnership with that country in the spring of 1945. President Obama has resumed a slow but steady escalation of “boots on the ground” in Iraq, continued support for rebels fighting ISIS and at the same time the government of Syria. And to carry out the mission of reconstituting US hegemony drone strikes and bombing missions target enemies in multiple countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The increasing contradictions of finance and industrial capital grow on a worldwide basis and masses of people in many countries are standing up against the imposition of austerity policies. Also it is becoming clear that the natural environment is in peril. Powerful sectors of the economic and foreign policy establishment agree with the Washington Post calls for a return to the US global hegemonic policy of the last seventy years. The pursuit of global hegemony has benefited banks, multinational corporations, and the military-industrial complex while millions of people have died in wars.

Therefore, CCDS will work with the peace movement to oppose:

1. the renewal of an even more aggressive US imperial policy supported by an ever-expanding, huge military budget,

2. the expansion of new strategies and tactics of high-tech, covert warfare: deep-state decision-making and fomenting color revolutions, assassination by drones and special operations teams, economic sanctions and destabilization, electronic surveillance, cyberwar, full-spectrum dominance coordinated through joint operations command and space technology,

3. policies that escalate tensions with Russia and China including a trillion dollar nuclear weapons modernization program, the TPP and the TTIP,

4. efforts to undermine the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador and support for repression in Honduras,

5. US military penetration of Africa,

6. continued collaboration with Saudi Arabia and Israel, the main instruments of violence in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.

CCDS also declares its continued support for:

1. the trend towards a multi-polar world and international instituions that support economic development, real democracy and human rights,

2. grassroots movements in the Global South and in Europe, including socialism,

3. solidarity with the struggles of the Palestinian people for equal rights, self-determination and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,

4. breaking up the military/industrial complex and building a movement of the progressive majority that connects peace with movements concerning climate change globally and for economic and social justice in the US.

 

V. Educating about Substantive Democracy through the vehicle of the Democracy Charter

a Program Proposal

Author: Karl Kramer

Committee: Northern California

 

Goal: to develop a deeper shared understanding of the struggle for democracy and how the Democracy Charter is a platform to moving forward towards substantive democracy

 

Objectives:

  • to carry out and implement the strategy proposal “Advancing to Socialism through Substantive Democracy”
  • to develop a shared vision of a better world of living wage jobs or a living income for all, affordable housing, universal health care, quality public education, progressive taxation of corporations and the wealthy, sustainable environment, and peace and self determination for all peoples of the world regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation or identity, or immigration status.
  • build relationships and unity between organizations so that they get out of the silos of their single-issue campaigns and see the interconnectedness of issues
  • develop cadre rooted in the theory of dialectical and historical materialism
  • educate activists about the history of the struggle for democracy and how people of color have been central to that struggle and its intersectionality with today’s struggles

 

Rationale: We do not have a singular multi-issue movement in the United States but a multitude of movements, often single issue or representing a single group. While they may win momentary battles, by themselves they do not have the joined strength to achieve systemic political and economic change. We also have a low level of organization in the United States. Union density is headed to the single digits and there are no social and economic justice organizations that we can point to as mass organizations. The number and size of progressive organizations is decreasing.

 

To organize and mobilize a Movement with a capital M, we need to develop an educational program that will convince people that collective action can produce change and that a better world is possible. Only by providing a vision for the future will people be inspired to take action.

 

The Democracy Charter, penned by the iconic Civil Rights Movement figure Jack O’Dell, provides a vehicle to develop the grassroots organizing potential of activists, to help expand organizing of the rank-and-file base and to create the dialogue that builds relationships between organizations that leads to movement building. O’Dell saw the Democracy Charter as a work in progress that he put in the public domain, an evolving document that is meant to inspire discussion and amendments. The Democracy Charter is not a finished product but a tool to spark continuing discussion.

 

Program Components

1.   CCDS chapters or activists in different regions will in a very intentional manner determine who to approach to join a study discussion group on the Democracy Charter.

 

CCDS activists would look at what organizations represent people who are directly affected by exploitation and oppression, who are the social movement actors fighting racism and poverty and who are the activists in these organizations involved in grassroots organizing. CCDS activists would then look at which CCDS members have connections to these organizations and activists. In these discussions, CCDS members would decide who should approach activists in these groups to participate in a study discussion group.

 

  1. CCDS activists would meet one-on-one with the activists they identified as potential participants in a study discussion group.

 

CCDS activists would have face-to-face conversations with grassroots activists to identify what are their shared interests and explain how the study discussion group would expand their thinking through dialogue on those shared interests. CCDS would produce talking points to help CCDS activists describe the Democracy Charter.

 

  1. CCDS activists would conduct study discussion groups on the Democracy Charter.

 

CCDS would produce discussion guidelines for the study groups. The study discussion groups also would be train-the-trainer sessions to develop participants to hold study discussion groups among members of their organization or as part of their grassroots organizing.

 

  1. CCDS activists would identify participants in the study discussion groups who wish to continue in a longer study discussion group “Long March for Democracy.”

 

In the “Long March for Democracy” study discussion groups, facilitators would lead a discussion of the organizing framework and study guide “The Struggle for a Substantive Democracy,” compiled by Tim Johnson, a historian, librarian and Marxist theoretician. Other materials that could be incorporated in the sessions are Zach Robinson’s DVD project on the Community Manifesto and the curriculum on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights developed by Carl Davidson, Randy and Tina Shannon. There could be discussion sessions on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 2nd Bill of Rights.

 

  1. CCDS activists would identify participants willing and interested in a regional Congress of the People.

 

CCDS activists would follow up with the facilitators of study discussion groups to identify participants to request to be involved in organizing a regional gathering. The organizing committee would include activists from organizations of strategic importance who particularly would invite members of their organizations to develop base-to-base relations between groups. The Congress of the People would include workshops on the sections of the Democracy Charter and then a plenary session to share, and possibly vote on, proposed changes to the Democracy Charter. The proposed changes and additions from each region could be shared on an existing website for the Democracy Charter www.democracycharter.org. The Congress of the People also would develop a People’s Platform of measures and actions to take on a federal, state and local level

Challenging White Supremacy is Critical to Efforts for Transformative Change

Posted by Janet Tuckers on March 29, 2016 under Pre-Convention Discussion | Be the First to Comment

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: Protesters rally outside of the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is due to speak at a campaign rally March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The rally was later cancelled for safety concerns. (Photo by Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, IL – MARCH 11: Protesters rally outside of the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is due to speak at a campaign rally March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The rally was later cancelled for safety concerns. (Photo by Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images)

Challenging White Supremacy is Critical to Efforts for Transformative Change

By Meta Van Sickle, Carla F Wallace, and Janet Tucker

There is a battle going on for the hearts, minds, bodies and votes of white people in this country, and both direct and indirect appeals to racism are part of an old strategy with new legs.
Trump’s message of hate, islamophobia, racism and division, his calls for outright violence against protestors in his rallies and his strategies of wall-building and deportation are gaining more traction than most people who care deeply about these issues ever thought it would. All over the country, white people are flocking to hear Trump; lining up for hours in big and small towns around the country to get into his rallies. Many of these people are poor and working class white people. Union leaders are warning that his targeting of white working people is working, and the demographic studies of Trump supporters bear them out.
While too many in the white left and too many white progressives hesitate to take on our responsibility for organizing white people for racial justice, corporate America is taking the race based class divisions all the way to the bank, and creating a country in which people of color are seen as ever more expendable.
A recent New York Times article documents the demographic breakdown of Trump supporters. The strongest indicator is a white person who has not finished high school, has no work, and has given up looking for it. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/13/upshot/the-geography-of-trumpism.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0

According to liberals, many progressives, and the mainstream media, you would think that we have a phenomena of poor and working class white people as hopeless bigots. You would think that racism was invented by poor and working class white people, and that this is who is sustaining systemic racism and white supremacy throughout our country and in our country’s relationship to the world. Over and over we hear, “It’s those uneducated rednecks”, and wash our hands of the responsibility to do more than blame from the sidelines as muslims, Black and Brown people, and immigrants bear the brunt of the dangerous winds of racialized hate blowing across our land.
In his important article, Donald Trump is Dangerous, The Nation’s John Nichols points out that Trump is speaking to working class anxiety more effectively and powerfully than mainstream democrats. “This country is dying,” says Trump. “And our workers are losing their jobs”. Trump goes on to decry trade pacts, and threaten to tax corporations if they continue to move jobs out of the country. Nichols quotes AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka who tells him that his workers are talking to him about Trump, and Service Employees International Union president Mary Kay Henry who cautions that the Trump message is so on target for white workers that he could win enough union votes, and even the presidency with his message to hurting white workers.
Instead of addressing the concerns of poor and working families, front and center, Washington talks about the economic “recovery”, “revitalized” manufacturing and “progress” on clean energy. Meanwhile, there continue to be urban centers where unemployment runs close to 50 percent among young Black men, and rural poverty that promises to keep several generations from providing enough for families to get by. What has been left of the safety net is being shredded further everywhere you look. A recent example under the republican governor of Kentucky, is the choice between canceling Family Court or Drug Court because budget cuts do not allow for keeping both.

There is a reason that the Trump rhetoric resonates and it is not only because it caters to racism and blames people of color. Trump is playing to the deep seated insecurity and material hardships that white working class and low income people are experiencing due to the failure of this economic system. And yes, he is wrapping this in attacks on people of color. His message is racist, and it only leads to a working class further divided along racial lines and unable to grow the people power needed for real change that benefits all of us.
This racist agenda and this divided working class is taking a toll on white workers in many ways. A recent study shows that the only demographic whose mortality rate is rising, is white workers. The causes of death are disproportionately from alcohol, drug addiction, and suicide. Despite the rhetoric about an economic recovery, and despite the “buffer” of race afforded white workers, working people are facing the direct impact of capitalism in decline, and are literally dying from it. While institutional racism ensures that people of color, in particular Black people, bear the brunt of the oppression, white workers as well, have lost the hope that they can provide a better future for their children. Unlike people of color, many of whom as Audre Lorde wrote knew they were “never meant to survive,” poor and working class whites thought that they were.

A snapshot of parts of the South is particularly helpful in this regard. While people of color are bearing the overwhelming impact of the continuing recession, working class people of all colors are facing cutbacks in basic services, loss of jobs, and lowering or stagnant wages.New industries may be moving to South Carolina for example, but their reasons for doing so have nothing to do with a growing economic health of the area. Quite the opposite. These industries are moving there because they are paying little or no state or local taxes and wages far lower than in their sister plants in other locations in the country. (Charleston Central Labor Council, Personal Communication) Corporate welfare and low wages limit the public sector ability to deliver in several ways, from the underfunding and unfunding of public education, to the poorly maintained infrastructure such as roads and bridges, lack of access to affordable health care and so on.
If we are to counter the use of bigotry to divert people from the failures of capitalism or to seduce white people falling out of the economy into the lure of having their own strongman, those of us who are white need to step up to our responsibility to do the work with other white people around racial justice. We need to be connecting with other working class and poor white people, our families, our neighbors, our co workers, who need a system that works for the many, not just the few. In this moment, we must move from blaming and shaming poor and working class white people, or avoiding the urgency of challenging white supremacy, and take up the work of lifting up the mutual interest we have in an America that provides for the basic human needs of all people AND is anchored in an unapologetic commitment to racial justice.
Part of our work must be to shine a light on those examples of white working class people joining with people of color for a mutual interest agenda that benefits all. Robin Kelley’s brilliant book, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, notes stories in the 1930’s of cross race, class conscious workers struggles against barriers to voting rights for poor people in rural areas. There are many examples of cross race class solidarity from the coal mines in Appalachia. In July of 1891 over 1,500 miners freed prisoners in the shadow of Tennessee Coal and Iron Company. The Chattanooga Federation of Trades reported that “whites and Negroes are standing shoulder to shoulder” and armed with 840 rifles. Black and white workers joined together in the Paint Creek Cabin strike of 1913-14, and in many battles against King Coal in the decades to follow.
More recently, outside the Louisville Convention Center in Kentucky on March 1, 2016 thousands of white people, many of them working class, lined up to hear Donald Trump deride big government and its elite corporate allies. Promising to “make America great again” his increasingly popular message is wrapped in blaming the nation’s woes on immigrants, “freeloaders” and other barely coded language for people of color. But also there were members of Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), part of a national network dedicated to organizing white people in effective, accountable relationship with people of color led struggles engaged not only in disrupting the Trump gathering on the inside, but also engaging on the outside. This included connecting with some in the Trump crowd around our mutual interest in an economy that works for all of us, and that we can win if white and people of color join together.In one conversation, a white worker at the Trump rally said that he thought one of the problems with so many Black people being put in prison is that so many of the judges are rich and white. In that brief exchange is the possibility of shifting the blame from people of color to the elites on both side of the political aisle who have failed to address the growing economic divide between rich and poor and the increasing impoverishment of the US poor and working class. Rather than blaming white workers for their fear and anxiety, SURJ frames racial justice as being in the mutual interest of ALL workers, and urges unity across racial lines as the only way to win the jobs, housing, health care, clean environment and dignity we all want and need.
Too often, rural people, many of whom are working class whites, are broad brushed as being the breeding ground of right wing militia. However, the leaders of much of this activity are far better off economically than those they seek to engage. In rural Oregon, over 350 mostly rural people came together outside Burns to say no to the militias holed up in the federal wildlife sanctuary. Supported by efforts of the Rural Organizing Project, the gathering exposed the lie that big city dwellers often have about low income rural white people going along with, or worse instigating right wing, racist militia mobilizations.
Charleston Area Justice Ministries (CAJM) is an example of the work that is possible when we focus on the stake that both white and people of color have in racial justice. In work on the intersections between racism, gun violence prevention and police preemptive stop reduction activities, the group has exposed the disproportionate targeting of people of color communities by police. CAJM has researched the number of “pretext” police stops across the police departments in the state. The North Charleston police department made over 130,000 such stops last year. Seventy percent of the stops were of African American drivers though the African American population is only forty two percent.
The CAJM group is now in the process of inviting the two cities mayors and police chiefs into a conversation about these police procedures in the presence of over hundreds and hundreds of concerned community members. The group is calling for a commitment to reduce the number of pretext stops, an outside auditor to review the stops and better community policing practices. A mutual interest narrative can address the reality of police oppression in Black communities and changes that will make ALL communities more safe.
The center point of right wing populism is white supremacy and the use of racism to blame people of color for the woes of white working people. Linda Alcoff, in her book, “The Future of Whiteness”, explains that white liberals “remain uncomfortable in broaching the topic (of race), while white conservatives generally try to disguise their racial references, though the disguise is often so ineffective as to be a joke (Alcoff, 2015, p. SSS).
Too many efforts among white liberals and the white left have either fallen into the mistake of avoiding the issue of race as divisive to class unity, or spoken of a “white privilege” few struggling white workers can identify with. The first approach maintains the fertile ground for appeals to racism, the second erases the class differences in how white people of wealth and white workers experience their whiteness. Both continue the strategic errors in our efforts to build working class unity on a basis of shared needs, hopes, and a commitment to racial justice.
Lee Atwater, in his book Bad Boy, aptly describes how the right wing politicians are using “wedge” issues to divide and conquer the voting population. One such current wedge is the narrow and inaccurate portrayal of the Democratic Party as being anti-police. While those of us engaged in challenging police abuse see this suggestion as laughable, white voters who have already bought into the idea that police terror in Black communities and the killings of Black people is reasonable and appropriate are shunning Democratic candidates as anti police. In North Charleston, SC the police shooting of Walter Scott was greeted by at least three popular responses, some of which were only voiced in cloistered spaces: 1) outrage at the police violence, 2) outrage that there was outrage at the shooting (Scott deserved it and the video taper should have been shot too), and 3) indifference.
A mutual interest framework that focuses on the stake that both working class white people and people of color have in accountable policing, jobs, housing, healthcare and other basic necessities, and the humanity that anchors us to one another, can grow the unity to challenge Trumpism, Wall Street, crazy Cruz Republicans, and the divisions that keep us from the transformative changes we all need.
We must be willing to talk about how race is being used to divide working people, and who benefits when we are divided. But most important, we must move beyond talking about this with one another, and take a mutual interest narrative that centers racial justice, into the neighborhoods, workplaces and families in which we live, work and love.In particular, white people on the left who are serious about challenging capitalism, must heed the call made over a half century ago by our sisters and brothers of color in SNCC, and our comrades in the Black Panthers, for white people to “organize our own”.In the words of SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael, “One of the most disturbing things about almost all the white supporters of the movement has been that they are afraid to go into their own communities–which is where the racism exists-and work to get rid of it.” Those of us who are white must learn how to speak about white supremacy, and how it is hurting all of us, in white communities.
Inspired by the movement for Black lives, by Black youth taking to the streets at great risk to challenge police abuse, by undocumented Latino youth calling for immigration reform, the largely people of color base of the Fight for $15, and indigenous leadership in the anti pipeline environmental struggle, more and more white people are asking what they can do about racism. And they are struggling to understand what racial justice has to do with their own liberation. This development provides an opening for white progressives and the left to take up our responsibility to organize white people for racial justice as part of an ever growing multiracial movement for transformative change.
This moment is ripe with opportunities to do this work, and burdened with dangers if we do not. One example of a broad based effort organizing white working people for racial justice is the national SURJ network. Moving with a mutual interest framework (that what we all need to live in dignity and have our needs met, is bound up in the struggle for racial justice, and that appeals to racism only benefit those in power) SURJ has a focus on the critical role of the south, and on white working class and poor people, including rural, youth, LGBTQ and disabled people.
Black Lives Matter founder Alicia Garza says that white people need to break white silence, challenge white supremacy and create a pole to which other white people can gravitate. Providing a response to the call from the movement for Black lives to mobilize hundreds of thousands of white people in effective, accountable action with people of color led struggles, there are now chapters of SURJ all over the country (140 and more each month in cities big and small and rural areas). People wanting to do this work get help from the national network in setting up a SURJ Chapter, with resources and organizing training to help them move forward.
If we are to counter the hate and divide messages that are directed at the fears and real life struggles of white working class and poor people, white progressives and those on the left need to get out of our “comfort zones” and use our voices and bodies to say no to white supremacy. We must organize white people to stand with people of color, for communities that work for all of us.
Rather than wringing hands over what is to be done, Louisville SURJ goes door to door in white working class neighborhoods talking about how police are targeting Black communities and why the divisions between white and Black workers keep all of us from winning the change we need to provide for our families. In a recent afternoon of conversations with over 120 white families, over 60 agreed to take a Black Lives Matter yard sign in their yard.
As white southern civil rights activist Anne Braden told us years ago, “The battle is and always has been a battle for the hearts and minds of white people in this country. The fight against racism is our issue. It’s not something that we’re called on to help people of color with. We need to become involved with it as if our lives depended on it because really, in truth, they do.”
As Alcoff notes, “…pessimism breeds the fatalism that excuses inaction and complicity.” Whether it is organizing with SURJ, or working with existing campaigns and organizations like the Sanders campaign, a local union drive or other efforts, we can be part of bringing hundreds of thousands of white working people into motion for an agenda that challenges corporate greed, undermines patriarchy, ends war and demands racial justice. Both the today and the tomorrow of every one of us demands no less.