Remembering April Browning

Posted by admin on April 18, 2014 under CCDS Today, Youth and Students | Be the First to Comment

Lexington, Kentucky and Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism lost a strong leader with the passing of April Browning. Her strong voice for justice and equality could be heard on many fronts, often the one holding the megaphone and leading chants.

April was born in Flint, Michigan but grew up in Central Kentucky. She understood first hand the struggle of low income parents in Kentucky. She understood first hand being denied right as a former felon for a mistake long past paid for. She understood the struggle of the 99% against the 1%. Because of all of this, she was committed to working for a socialist future.

April always put her beliefs into action. She was the inspiration behind and one of the founders of Occupy Lexington in 2011. She was passionate about the issues raised in the Occupy movement. As part of her work with Occupy, she led a “Mic Check” at local auction of foreclosed homes and a flash mob at a local Walmart. She loved being on the frontline.

April didn’t let her advocacy end when Occupy disbanded. She joined CCDS and continued working with comrades from Occupy to found Kentuckians Against the War on Women, lead two marches against Monsanto, and be a prime mover in local movement against a war with Syria.

Notably she was also spokesperson for the restoration of voting rights for former felons in Kentucky. Kentucky is a state that takes voting rights away for life if convicted of a felony. While fighting to change the law in Kentucky, April was also petitioning the Governor to get her rights back so she may vote for the first time in this year’s elections. In her own words, "I am politically active and I feel that my voice as well as thousands of other Kentuckians’ voices should be heard. … I’m fighting for progress across the board and this fight is personal.”

April and her partner, John Blickenstaff, both CCDS members, attended the CCDS Youth School and Convention last summer. Comrades from across the country sent messages to Lexington to express their remorse at the news.

Will Emmons, a Lexington CCDS member and participant in the school, said, “April was dealt a rough hand but sought to play it in a way that contributed to the liberation of humanity.” He stated he met her at the first CCDS meeting he attended in Kentucky. He said that when he met April and the other CCDS comrades he felt had “found the community of people here in Lexington who wanted to work for the things I want to work for.” He added, “Unfortunately, that community is a lot poorer today for the stupidly tragic loss of. . .April.”

While April was a committed revolutionary, she was also a dedicated mom. Whenever April’s made a speech about herself she began, "First and foremost, I’m a mom," In an interview with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth she said, "My son Elijah . . . makes every day worth living and special . . . That’s the first and most important thing you need to know about me." She went on to explain, "But after that, it’s really important to me to take initiative to make my community a better place – for Elijah and everyone else."

We mourn the loss of her leadership and activism but her spirit will remain with us as the struggle continues.

CCDS Mourns Brandon Wallace

Posted by admin on January 17, 2013 under African American, CCDS Today, Youth and Students | Be the First to Comment

We in the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism are deeply saddened by the death of Brandon Wallace on January 10th, 2013 and we express our deepest sympathy to his family and friends. Brandon was one of our young leaders with tremendous talents. His passing is a heartbreaking loss. Brandon contributed much to our organization as well as his larger community.  He was well loved and respected by many.

Brandon served on the National Coordinating Committee and also helped to produce our newsletter, The Mobilizer, for which he recently did an interview with Marian Gordon about her trip to Palestine. Brandon was our Southern Regional Organizer. He was deeply committed to the local movements in Alabama where he lived.

Fellow young member of CCDS and friend Camille Williamson wrote, "As we reflect upon Brandon’s legacy of work we are reminded that the struggle for social justice is a journey full of passion, commitment, and motivation. And we will always be inspired by Brandon’s contributions to progressive movement-building. Furthermore, we will cherish his eloquent ability to synthesize his thoughts and ideas into a ribbon of poetry for all to share.”

Brandon was an award winning writer and recently published a book of poetry, Shadows and Light.  He maintained a blog Julius Speaks which was, as he put it "A collage of personal, political, cultural and historical commentary from the thought of Brandon Wallace." Through his writings and actions he influenced many. He will be greatly missed.

The following is from Brandon’s book Shadows and Light. http://tinyurl.com/b58lvep

The 1980s

By Brandon Wallace

Bermuda Grass in Lincoln Park,
The sound of black musicians on guitar- Earth, Wind, and Fire combining the
elements in a gravitational groove, pulled into the dizzy of a neutron dance.
A lipstick, cherry bright as the light of a smile, red Thunderbird,
the blackenized Barbie turned inside out,
pulled up into the alley, against the crosspatch, metal fence
behind the house with shaved top and delicate cement,
only the slightest bit of grass growing through the cracks
where we played Red Light/ Green Light Red Green Red and Green Lights
flashing, blending together in backgrounds of black and sunshine yellow,
the red appears in pores and freckles in the brightness of the sun
with the distant green tops of trees,
the green of the electric carpet against which I used to rub to feel the current.
Rows of houses, claustrophobically close, creating closeness and warmth,
Coca Cola and Pepsi, in red bottles with white lines,
sprite in green and lemon yellow, juicy fruit and Ronald Reagan,
Jesse Jackson in wool overcoats holding signs,
campaigns for change.
Change.
Harold Washington, change,
the color of his suits.
Kinetic movement,
promise and vision.

Brandon Wallace, Presente!
January 14, 2013

The Real Cure for the College Tuition Bubble

Posted by admin on April 29, 2012 under Political Economy, Youth and Students | Be the First to Comment

The Need to Raise Wages and Abolish Student Debt

By Keith Joseph
CCDS in New Jersey

The rise in student debt is commonly attributed to the rising cost of tuition.  But this mistakes the chain of cause and effect.  Rising tuition did not cause us to go into debt.  Thirty years of falling real wages caused us to go into debt.  And debt causes tuition to rise. In other words, student loans cause tuition to rise.  If no student were given access to a student loan next year then tuition would dropped dramatically; the tuition bubble would burst.  This is the crucial point: tuition rises because we are being forced into debt.

That is the law of supply and demand.  As demand rises relative to supply the price (tuition) rises.

The easy credit of student loans functions the same as sub-prime mortgages.  Sub-prime mortgages, and easy credit, created a housing bubble — a dramatic rise in the price of housing caused by a rise in “effective demand” i.e. demand backed by the ability to pay.  When interest rates rose a bit there were some defaults.  Defaults create a higher interest rate by increasing “risk.” Defaults continue to rise and housing prices have been falling ever since.

Like housing prices during the bubble tuition is inflated. We are in a tuition bubble, i.e., tuition increases because student debt creates an artificial ability to pay.  Why do you need an artificial ability? Since no one in your family has ever earned enough to save for your college education, because the 1% were cutting wages since the 1970’s and replacing those wages with credit cards, we would never be able to afford college.  If we can’t afford tuition the price of a college education must fall or the schools will empty.

The struggle against tuition is the struggle against debt and the struggle against debt is the struggle against tuition.  They are one, cause and effect.  Without debt a rises in tuition is not possible.

The struggle of current students against tuition hikes must take the same path as the movement to abolish debt if it is to be successful.  We must abolish student debt and college tuition.  Yes, we must have free public college education paid for, in its entirety, by an education sur-tax on the 1%.

The problem is relatively simple.  Average citizens are not paid enough in wages or salaries to save for their children’s education.  Educated citizens are obviously the only people capable of self rule. Educated citizens are self evidently the only possible basis for democratic society, for, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, to put it in the formulation favored by Lincoln.  The current method of funding our education on the backs of our future wages has failed and this failure is about to cause a deepening of the current economic crisis.

To prevent a furtherance of the crisis and to put the economy in position to turn the corner the Federal government must cancel existing student debt and eliminate tuition by putting an education sur tax on the 1% equal to the costs of educating every 18 year old who wants to go to 4 years of college.  In this way we will have a public education system worthy of a democracy and a citizenry capable of self-rule.  We need a debtors union to impose this plan on the 1%.

Debtors Unite! Tax the 1% for the costs of education!

Book Review – Revolutionary Youth and the New Working Class: Lost Writings of SDS

Posted by admin on December 17, 2011 under Marxism, Political Economy, Socialism, Youth and Students | Be the First to Comment

 

cover-front-revyouth Edited by Carl Davidson,

Changemaker Publications

Pittsburgh PA, 2011

By Jerry Harris

Carl Davidson has done a tremendous service to anyone who studies the history of social movements or anyone interested in the 1960s rebellion. This "lost" collection of papers reveals the depth and richness of radical thinking coming out of the student movement as the war raged in Viet-Nam and militant protestors marched through the streets of America.

The most important document is the "Port Authority Statement," by SDS members David Gilbert, Robert Gottlieb and Gerry Tenney. Although at the time not widely circulated, it offers great insight into the thinking and analysis of SDS as it turned to revolutionary theory and debate. This is an impressive document. Detailed in statistical and economic analysis, grounded in revolutionary social theory, and innovative in its thinking and insights.

One of the most important sections of the paper was its class analysis with its focus on the new working class and the relationship of students to an economy shifting from manufacturing to services and technology. The documents notes that, "Modern American capitalism is characterized by rapid technological change with scientific knowledge growing at a logarithmic rate." This will result in the "elimination of unskilled labor (as) the blue-collar sector will decrease (and) jobs that require high degrees of education and training" will increase. (pages 88-89)

That analysis was made in 1966. Now read a recent article by Edward Luce from the Financial Times: "the middle-skilled jobs that once formed the ballast of the world’s wealthiest middle class are disappearing. They are being supplanted by relatively low-skilled (and low-paid) jobs that cannot be replaced either by new technology or by offshoring – such as home nursing and landscape gardening. Jobs are also being created for the highly skilled, notably in science, engineering and management. (12/11/11) Decades later the paper’s main thesis still holds up.

Continuing its class analysis the Port Authority document examined the capitalist class and the debate over ownership and control. The authors focused attention on the growing trend towards paying executives with large stock rewards, merging management and ownership. Again we can turn to a recent article published in the December 2011 Monthly Review that reads, "More recently, David Harvey has argued that ownership (share holders) and management (CEOs) of capitalist enterprises have fused together, as upper management is increasingly paid with stock options." (Richard Peet) This "recent" argument now being made by a leading Marxist trails Port Authority by some 45 years.

Although the authors grasped the sweeping impact that technology would have on American workers, what they could not see would be globalization and the advent of neo-liberalism as a governing ideology. As the paper notes at the time, "Corporate liberalism implies that the dominant economic institution is the corporation and that the prevailing political and social mode is liberalism." (page 68) Of course it’s understandable how such changes would be all but invisible in 1966; it’s also a good reminder why political tactics and strategy must remain flexible and activists should always be willing to reevaluate their analysis.

The above are but a few of the enticing insights that are contained in page after page of these documents. As new social movements gather force throughout the world, a look into the thinking of activists from the last great social movement can help give direction to coming future battles. I would highly recommend this book to all activists and academics interesting in building a better world.

Jerry Harris, National Secretary of the Global Studies Association and author of "The Dialectics of Globalization."

SOA Activists: An Invitation from CCDS

Posted by admin on October 25, 2011 under CCDS Today, Solidarity, Youth and Students | Be the First to Comment

Photo: Huge OWS Event at Washington Square Park in NYC

From Wall Street to Fort Benning:

The Growing Wave of Resistance

and the Left Perspective

An open discussion on the occasion of the
22nd School of the America’s Watch
Protest at Ft. Benning, GA

Friday Evening

November 18, 2011 6pm – 9pm

Country Inn & Suites Hotel
1720 Fountain Court
Columbus, GA 31904

Sponsored by Committees of Correspondence for Democracy & Socialism (CCDS)

Agenda

Welcome by Carl Davidson, National Co-Chair of CCDS

1.    The growing mass struggle for human rights
2.    The changing dialectics of political action
3.    The responsibilities of the left

Our Urgent Tasks: Fully Engage and Support the ‘Occupy!’ Movements and the Fight for Jobs!

Posted by admin on October 13, 2011 under CCDS Today, Elections, Labor, Organizing, Racism, Trade Unions, Youth and Students | Read the First Comment

Resolution of the CCDS NCC Meeting, Sept 30, 2011

In discussing the urgency of the political moment and the economic crisis facing the working class and its allies, the NCC urges CCDS members to undertake all possible ways to help build broad coalition efforts in the fight for jobs, peace and against austerity and war. Particularly, we urge CCDS to:

1.    Become fully engaged with the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ direct actions and mass mobilizations expanding through hundreds of cities across the country. In addition to working directly with the young people initiating these events, we should work to bring wider allies, such as trade unions and grassroots organizations from communities of color, to add their voices and their strength to this common front aimed at finance capital.

2.    Build support for the American Jobs Act put forward by President Obama as a first step to breaking the GOP’s resistance to any progressive change, as well as continuing support for other jobs legislation under considerations, such as then Schakowsky bill, and fuller measures such as the Conyers bill;

3.    Build support and participate in the Rebuild the Dream coalition and its ongoing efforts, which has potential for building the left-center coalition of the progressive majority. In particular, we need to emphasize cutting the military budget and move the money to the needs of the country, and taxing the rich along with opposing any efforts to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

4.    Prepare for working in labor-community coalitions and other grass roots efforts in the 2012 electoral campaigns

The NCC discussed a number of issues of the progressive movement in motion, including abolition of the death penalty in the wake of the execution of Troy Davis, mass mobilizations against home foreclosures and targeting the banks, the organizing in defense of justice for immigrants and the DREAM Act, opposition to the trade agreements coming before Congress, the organizing in support of Peace Action and UFPJ efforts to end the wars and mobilize opposition next May at the NATO/G8 Summit in Chicago, trade union organizing campaigns, and efforts to oppose right wing efforts to eliminate Black majority congressional districts and other discriminatory measures to restrict the right to vote. We urge attention to these as well.

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

Posted by admin on October 2, 2011 under Organizing, Solidarity, Trade Unions, Youth and Students | Read the First Comment

This was unanimously voted on by all members of Occupy Wall Street last night, around 8pm, Sept 29. It is our first official document for release. We have three more underway, that will likely be released in the upcoming days: 1) A declaration of demands. 2) Principles of Solidarity 3) Documentation on how to form your own Direct Democracy Occupation Group. This is a living document. you can receive an official press copy of the latest version by emailing c2anycga@gmail.com .

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one?s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers? healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people?s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

http://www.dangerousminds.net/comments/first_official_statement_from_the_occupy_wall_street_movement/

Climate Catastrophe & Social Change: An Eco-Socialist Perspective

Posted by admin on February 16, 2009 under Climate Change, Elections, Energy, Labor, Nationalities, Obama, Organizing, Socialism, Strategy, Trade Unions, Youth and Students | Read the First Comment

Eco-Socialism Conference

Oakland, California
January 10-11, 2009

Plenary Panel Remarks

By Carl Bloice

People look at me and roll their eyes when I offer the opinion that potential for international peace and cooperation would be greatly enhanced were it discovered that a large object was hurtling toward Earth and threatening great destruction to the planet. Science fiction would become science and possibly we would pull together to find a way to divert the menace from its path. As I said, people look at me like I’m a brother from another planet so I won’t go any further into it here. But still I think the scenario works as an analogy. So does the Economist magazine. Imagine my surprise when in its latest edition, it began its story on global warming with these words:

“Imagine that some huge rocky projectile, big enough to destroy most forms of life, was hurtling towards the earth, and it seemed that deep international co-operation offered the only hope of deflecting the lethal object. Presumably, the nations of the world would set aside all jealousies and ideological hangups, knowing that failure to act together meant doom for all. Read more of this article »

Van Jones’s Plan for Jobs in a Green Economy

Posted by admin on January 7, 2009 under African American, Climate Change, Energy, Organizing, Trade Unions, Youth and Students | Be the First to Comment

Photo: Van Jones and ‘Green Collar’ Workers
[Note from CarlD: While this is a article rather than a paper, I think it contains a vital plank in any jobs program we would want in our basic problem, jobs with new skills for those who need them most.]

It’s Not EasyBecoming Green

By David Roberts

In These Times

One early July morning in Austin, Texas, I sat slumped in a cavernous, featureless conference hall on the last day of Netroots Nation, the annual gathering of progressive bloggers. Half the attendees had already split town. Two days of events and two nights of vigorous celebration had left those who remained bleary-eyed, weakly nursing their bad coffee and stale muffins.

The morning’s only featured speaker was African-American activist Van Jones, co-founder of the national advocacy group Green for All, who had come straight off a plane from the North Pole. (Really.) Given his exhaustion — and ours — Jones could have been forgiven for phoning it in.

Instead, he began joking, cajoling and provoking, weaving an urgent narrative out of class, race, activism and the existential threat of global climate change. Sleepy bloggers sat up a little straighter and closed their laptops. They began nodding, then cheering, then rising to their feet, stomping and shouting. After a half hour, the previously somnolent room hummed with energy.
Read more of this article »

For Discussion on Obama and Our Tasks Ahead

Posted by admin on December 10, 2008 under African American, Elections, Labor, Nationalities, Obama, Organizing, Strategy, Trade Unions, Women, Youth and Students | 3 Comments to Read

The Bumpy Road Ahead:
New Tasks of the
Left Following
Obama’s Victory

By Carl Davidson
CCDS National Committee

American progressives have won a major victory in helping to defeat John McCain and placing Barack Obama in the White House. The far right has been broadly rebuffed, the neoconservative war hawks displaced, and the diehard advocates of neoliberal political economy are in thorough disarray. Of great importance, one long-standing crown jewel of white supremacy, the whites-only sign on the Oval Office, has been tossed into the dustbin of history.

The depth of the historical victory was revealed in the jubilation of millions who spontaneously gathered in downtowns and public spaces across the country, as the media networks called Obama the winner. When President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama took the platform in Chicago to deliver his powerful but sobering victory speech, hundreds of millions-Black, Latino, Asian, Native-American and white, men and women, young and old, literally danced in the streets and wept with joy, celebrating an achievement of a dramatic milestone in a 400-year struggle, and anticipating a new period of hope and possibility.
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Read more of this article »